After weeks of silence on Nagaland Governor R N Ravi’s slamming the state for its “deplorable law-and-order situation”, the Neiphiu Rio government has issued a detailed, 20-point rebuttal through its Department of Information and Publicity.
Ravi, in a letter addressed to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, had alleged that half a dozen “armed gangs” were running the state through parallel governments, were running rampant extortion rackets and creating a “crisis of confidence” in the system, and described the scenario as “grim”.
In its rebuttal, the Rio government in a statement said the “assessment of the law and order situation being precarious and grim and having deteriorated and collapsed since August 2019 does not appear to be factual”. It said the Naga political problem remains unsolved after 57 years, and discussions with Naga Political Groups (NPGs) have been taking place between the Indian Government and the groups through Centrally-appointed interlocutors.
Shifting responsibility to Ravi, who is the current interlocutor, the statement said that since peace talks concluded in October 2019, the people of Nagaland had expected an early political solution. Claiming that the law-and-order situation in Nagaland is “peaceful and normal” and that the law-and-order machinery has been effective, the statement said, “The State Government feels that terming the organisations as ‘armed gangs’ may not be in the interest of the peace process and may not be congenial to the achievement of lasting peace which is the desire of both the GOI and the state government. The State government is of the view that with the signing of the 2015 Framework agreement and the conclusion of the negotiations on 31st October 2019, the issue of sustenance of the political organisations should have been discussed and resolved.”
The Nagaland government has further maintained that despite challenges — including assassination attempts on Naga leaders and conducting elections under the shadow of conflict — the “Constitution has always been upheld’’ and that the voting percentage of Nagaland in national elections have consistently been above the national average.
The Rio government further pointed to the setting up of anti-extortion cells in all districts and a special task force within the Nagaland Police to apprehend extortionists.
“The State police along with the Assam Rifles and other security forces have registered a total of 893 criminal cases against various factions and a total of 1,238 persons have been arrested in the last five years. A total of 713 extortion cases have been registered and 1007 extortionists arrested in the last five years,” the state government statement said.
It furnished details of arrests, raids and even replied to Ravi’s accusations of forest land grabbing, saying that these encroachments have been taken seriously and extensive eviction drives have been carried out.
The state government has also claimed that in the matter of Article 371 (A), the procedure for taking approval from the Governor for posting of senior officials was done away with after the Nagaland Assembly adopted a resolution in 2013, bringing “Nagaland at par with other states”.
“The State government is of the view that any decision to put the clock back in contravention of such a Resolution in the guise of discharging special responsibilities under Art 371 (A) (1) (b) would be against the principles of democracy and would be viewed as anti-people and we must not roll back the State to the era of 1960s,” the statement says.
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