Nagaland State Cabinet on the issue of public emergency & abstention by ENPO

Participants during a Public Rally organised by the Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) at Parade Ground in Tuensang town on February 9. (Morung File Photo)

Participants during a Public Rally organised by the Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) at Parade Ground in Tuensang town on February 9. (Morung File Photo)

Our Correspondent
Kohima | May 16

Nagaland State Cabinet on Thursday issued a press statement on the issue of Public Emergency and Abstention from Central and State Elections by Eastern Nagaland Peoples' Organisation (ENPO). The press statement was made available during a press conference after a cabinet meeting in Kohima today.

Detailing the circumstances, the press release mentioned that joint consultative meeting of the ENPO, federating tribal bodies, frontal organizations and senior leaders of the 6 (six) districts of Eastern Nagaland was held on January 17, 2024 at ENPO Headquarters, Tuensang, in which the leaders expressed their resentment over the delayed settlement of the Frontier Nagaland Territory issue and reaffirmed their stand 'to reject the offer of Autonomous Council other than the creation of Frontier Nagaland Territory.”

On December 18, 2023, Union Home Minister handed over a draft Memorandum of Settlement to Chief Minister in New Delhi and on December 21, 2023, the Chief Minister handed over the draft copy to Minister Paiwang Konyak, Convener of ENLU with a request to discuss with ENPO leaders.

During a meeting at Tourist Lodge, Dimapur on February 14, 2024 convened by Eastern Nagaland Gazetted Officers Association (ENGOA) when the members of Eastern Nagaland Legislator's Union wanted to discuss the draft paper on ENT, the ENPO leaders refused to table the draft copy in the meeting stating that any draft sent by MHA through any party other than ENPO would not be accepted or discussed. 

On February 23, 2024, another joint consultative meeting of the ENPO, federating tribal bodies, frontal organizations and senior leaders of the 6 (six) districts of Eastern Nagaland was held at Chenmoho village, Mon district where it was unanimously resolved not to participate in any Central and State elections.

On March 5, 2024, a joint coordination meeting was held at Hotel Cedar Dimapur where the ENPO and its frontal organizations adopted six (6) resolutions and declared a state of public emergency all over Eastern Nagaland and strictly resolved to implement Chenmoho Resolution of not participating in any Central and State Elections. 

Further, the ENPO declared a 'dawn to dusk bandh all over Eastern Nagaland on March 8, 2024 and further continuation of total bandh in the six ENPO districts was announced on March 11, 2024. 

On March 12, 2024 all Eastern Nagaland legislators and MP were summoned to Tuensang by noon of March 14, 2024 by the ENSF and during the total bandh, enforcers burned effigies of the Prime Minister of India, the Union Home Minister and the National BJP President of India at main bazaar police point, Tuensang Town on March 13, 2024.

During the two fortnight of March 2024, the ENPO convened several rounds of consultations and reiterated its stand to uphold the Chenmoho resolution. On March 20, the ENPO organization confirmed its intention to abstain from the upcoming Lok Sabha Polls scheduled on April 19, 2024. 

Subsequently on March 21, Chief Minister of Nagaland appealed to the ENPO to refrain from boycotting the electoral process while emphasizing the indispensability of dialogue and cooperation in resolving differences and further stressed on the importance of inclusive dialogue between the elected representatives and ENPO.

On March 28, 2024, the ENPO urged ENLU to issue a letter of support to ENPO for the creation of FNT by the Government of India which shall not be under Sixth Schedule. In the light of the above, a joint meeting of the Cabinet and the members of Eastern Nagaland Legislatures Union was held on March 30, 2024 and an earnest appeal was made to the ENPO and its constituents to participate in the Parliamentary Elections scheduled on April 19, 2024 and fulfill the democratic duty for the greater benefit of the region and its constituents.

On April 1, 2024 the ENPO in a letter to the Election Commission of India through the CEO Nagaland, expressed its intention to abstain from participation in the Lok Sabha elections, 2024. ENPO further rejected the Chief Minister's appeal not to abstain from LS elections.

A Cabinet meeting was held on April 4, 2024 where office bearers and senior officials of the Eastern Nagaland Gazetted Officers Association (ENGOA) were called for discussion on the issue of ENPO abstention in the election. The Cabinet sought the help of ENGOA to engage ENPO and other sister organisations to make them withdraw their call to refrain from Parliamentary elections. Instructions were also issued to district administrations to sensitize all public authorities about their bounden duties and legal and penal provisions in this regard.

On April 17, 2024, the ENPO urged the 20 MLAs from the Eastern Nagaland districts to stay indoors to prevent any untoward incident to honour the decision by the citizens of Eastern Nagaland to abstain from participating in the Lok Sabha elections and sought their understanding and support regarding matter of utmost importance to their community.

On April 19, 2024, under the directives of ENPO, the offices of the various student unions of the ENPO area deployed volunteers near the houses of all Ministers Advisors/MLAs during the polling day thus preventing them from exercising their franchise and restrained the movement of all the residents of that area which resulted in zero polling in all six districts of the Eastern Nagaland. 

All these acts are in violations of people’s right to vote and participate in the democratic process as enshrined in the Constitution of India.

Despite several appeals made by Chief Minister, legislators of the Eastern Nagaland and the State Cabinet, the ENPO continued with their resolve to abstain from the electoral process which resulted in zero voter turn-out in the six Eastern Nagaland districts, the press release stated.

During the meetings convened by the ENPO on abstaining from the elections, the elected representatives from the Eastern Nagaland districts were not invited /consulted and hence they were not part of any decision/ resolution regarding abstention of the Central and State Elections, the release added.

Meanwhile, the State Cabinet meeting was convened on May 16, 2024 and the State Cabinet once again appealed to the ENPO and its constituent bodies to participate in the ULB Elections “which is being conducted on the directions of the Honorable Supreme Court after the prolonged legal battle involving the women's reservation in the Urban Local Bodies in the State of Nagaland in the larger interest of the public and their welfare.”