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Nagaland: Day after abstaining from voting, Naga bodies lift indefinite shutdown call


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Kohima, April 20:  A day after abstaining from voting in the Lok Sabha elections in six districts of Eastern Nagaland, the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) and its associate body on Saturday lifted the indefinite total shutdown call given across the six districts.

ENPO, the apex body of seven tribes from the six districts, and its associate organisation, Eastern Nagaland Public Emergency (ENPE), called for an indefinite shutdown in six Eastern Nagaland districts — Kiphire, Longleng, Mon, Noklak, Shamator, and Tuensang — from Thursday evening, more than 12 hours before the commencement of polling for the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state.

On Friday, election officials at 738 polling stations in the six districts waited for over nine hours, but none of the region’s 4 lakh (approx) voters showed up to cast their votes, including the 20 MLAs from the area.

The Naga organisations gave the call for an indefinite shutdown and abstention from the electoral process in support of their demand for a separate ‘Frontier Nagaland Territory’, or a separate state, comprising the six Eastern Nagaland districts.

The Naga bodies on Saturday expressed “regret for all the inconvenience” caused by the shutdown call.

On Friday, state Chief Electoral Officer R. Vyasan issued a show cause notice to the ENPO, indicating to take appropriate action under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for the abstention from voting call.

In his reply to the CEO’s notice, ENPO President R. Tsapikiu Sangtam said that consultations were held with the people of Eastern Nagaland, represented through the ENPO, before giving the call to abstain from voting.

Sangtam maintained that the “shutdown was a voluntary initiative taken by the people of the Eastern Nagaland region”.

The ENPO chief also expressed regret over any misunderstanding or misinterpretation of their actions.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said on Friday that the state government has proposed the constitution of an autonomous body for the development of Eastern Nagaland and its people.

Since 2010, the ENPO has been demanding a separate ‘Frontier Nagaland Territory’ or separate state comprising six Eastern Nagaland districts inhabited by seven backward tribes — Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Phom, Tikhir, Sangtam, and Yimkhiung.

The ENPO and its allies had given a call to boycott the Assembly elections held in February last year but withdrew it later following an assurance from Union Home Minister Amit Shah.



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