State

State govt responds to Governor

DIMAPUR, JUL 2 (NPN) | Publish Date: 7/2/2020 1:14:21 PM IST

A letter dated June 16,2020 written by Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi to the chief minister Neiphiu Rio had caused reverberations across and beyond Nagaland when it literally put the state government in the dock for the “precarious law and order situation” and  “armed gangs” effectively challenging the writ of the constitutionally mandated government and running their parallel governments while  the law and order machinery offered no resistance. 

A meeting was held on June 19, 2020 between the Governor and chief minister and cabinet as per the request from the Governor in his letter. The police department responded to the Governor’s observations by citing crime statistics at a press briefing on June 26. 

In its response to the Governor’s letter issued through the Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR), the government said the assessment of law and order being precarious and which deteriorated and collapsed since August 2019 “ does not appear to be factual.”

On the crucial issue of the Governor disclosing that he has decided to exercise special powers over law and order as per Article 371(1)(b) of the Indian constitution, DIPR said the state government viewed that this was done away with as per the resolution adopted by the Nagaland Legislative Assembly on December 17, 2013.

Therefore, attempting to invoke the Article was like trying to put back the clock and in contravention of the December 2013 assembly resolution. Further, DIPR said the state government viewed any attempt to invoke Article 371(1)(b) under the guise of discharging special responsibility as “anti-people” adding there should be no roll back to the era of the 1960s during the period of formation of Nagaland. 

DIPR maintained that the situation is a “political problem” which has remained unresolved for the past 57 years of existence of state of Nagaland . According to DIPR the government of India has also acknowledged it as a political issue and for which talks were held with Naga Political Groups (NPGs) since 1997 at the highest level of prime ministers including the present incumbent.

 DIPR narrated the appointment of R.N. Ravi as Governor on August 1,2019 and how he had earlier as Interlocutor, contributed to the framing and signing of the Framework Agreement on August 3,2015 and concluded all talks with Naga groups on October 31,2019 for expected early political solution. 

Further, DIPR maintained that after conclusion of talks in October ,2019 and expectation of solution, terming organisations as “armed gangs” might not be in the interest of peace process and not congenial to the achievement of lasting peace as desired by both the state and central governments. Also DIPR felt that the signing of the Framework Agreement in 2015 and the conclusion of negotiations in October 2019 should have addressed and resolved the issue of “sustenance of political organisations.”

DIPR also said Nagaland has come a long way from the “precarious law and order and precarious security situation” in the past decades where assassination attempts were made on VIPs including the incumbent chief minister, then works and housing minister on May 30,1995 besides serious challenges on fulfilling constitutional obligations such as participating in elections etc. DIPR also said the 1990s witnessed the most volatile security environment with killings, fratricide and violent factional clashes occurring on regular basis. It said the fact that voting percentages between 78% to 92% during the past three successive decades bore testimony to people’s support for constitutional process.

In comparison with the past decades, DIPR reiterated that the law and order situation present “continues to be normal and peaceful” and that all wings of the law and order machinery were working effectively in tandem to ensure peaceful atmosphere.

However, it admitted that there were “anti-social and unruly elements at certain places” trying to vitiate the atmosphere by trying to o impose illegal taxes and extortions but that the state police have been dealing with them in a proactive manner. It said police had filed cases suo-moto in 95% of incidents of extortion without any complaint and accordingly took swift action. 

To deal with extortion, DIPR said police formed Anti-Extortion Cell in all districts headed by the SDPO along with other personnel. In Dimapur, where crime scene was most active, it said the Cell is headed by an officer of DCP rank. Also Mobile Highway Patrolling for anti-extortion measures was also in operation in Kohima and Dimapur along the National Highway. 

In addition, a Special Task Force (STF) of two companies with well trained and specially armed personnel was created in March 2018 to augment operational capabilities for raids and search and rescue operation against criminals. 

DIPR reported that during the past five years, police along with Assam Rifles and other Security Forces have registered a total of 893 criminal cases against various factions and a total of 1238 persons arrested. The cases include Arms Act, Explosive Act, UA(P)Act, ransom, NSR Act, murder, robbery etc. 

Also a total of 713 extortion cases were registered during past five years where a total of 1007 extortionists were arrested. 

Further highlighting the activities of the state police, DIPR said strict vigil was maintained against anti-social or criminal elements bent on derailing developmental activities such as road construction.

Also as suggested by the Governor, DIPR said the state government a Special Investigation Team(SIT) was formed to tackle extortions on highway construction companies which has been on the job since January 21,2020. In this regard, it said the SIT had registered six cases- four being registered suo-moto while two were transferred to Longleng district jurisdiction. In response to the Governor’s letter that only the foot soldiers of “armed gangs” were nabbed, DIPR said six functionaries of various factions including a ‘self styled’ deputy kilonser, a self-styled finance secretary were arrested and an additional three criminal cases registered suo-moto.

Further, buttressing the activities of the police, DIPR stated that the total number of IPC offences in 2018 was only 1223(NCRB DATA), which is 57.3 crime per 1 lakh population, compared with 93.1 in Manipur and 329.7 in Assam. It said the total number of murder cases reported in Nagaland in 2019 was 23 as compared to 39 in 2018 and the number of murder cases till July is 9. Further, the total number of rapes in 2019 was 19, compared to 11 cases in 2018 while a total of three cases were reported till date. DIPR said as per NCRB figures , the total number of heinous and grave offences in Nagaland was coming down and further efforts are on to minimize them. 

DIPR further continued to roll out figures under various categories of the past five years , such as killings in inter-factional clashes, attacks on security forces and civilians killed since 2001. During 2001-2005, there was 94 incidents ; in 2006-2010 there were 215 incidents; in 2011-2015 there were 116 incidents , and in the last five years(2015-2020) the total number of incidents had reduced to only 15, which it said was reflective of the improved law and order situation and the overall peaceful atmosphere prevailing in the state. 

On encroachments over government forest land, DIPR said the state government has been dealing with the issue with utmost seriousness but it required constant efforts to address the accumulated issue. It cited that in a major eviction drive on June 26,2020 in Bhandari sub-division under Wokha district, a team comprising of administration, police and forest officials were on eviction drive.

On the Munglamukh forest colony and Intangki National Park, the government said encroachments dated back to 1993 and several attempts for eviction were done till 2002. However, some of the areas were converted to NSCN(I-M) designated camp.

DIPR also said the state government was evolving conviction rates and giving due attention by imparting training to Investigating Officers etc.

On price rise due to extortion, the government said there could be some escalation of prices of construction materials , though all essential commodities were sold below the specified Maximum Retail Price (MRP). 

To the Governor’s concern over extortion from construction companies that have adversely affected the progress of the 4-lane construction on the Kohima-Dimapur highway , the state government said a review meeting was held on March 4,2020 with MD of NHIDCL including contractors and state officials including DCs of districts. According to DIPR, the feedback from the NHIDCL was that the DCs and state government were providing fullest support and cooperation to deal with any problem in execution of the project.

To highlight the peaceful scenario DIPR pointed out that Independence Day, Republic Day were celebrated peacefully and also other national days and annual state day. It also cited celebration of Hornbill Festival, conducting Dr.T. Ao trophy, Naga wrestling and host of other national games etc.

In view of all the above, the state government maintained that the state was witnessing a period of peace and harmony and development were taking place on war footing. Also DIPR said the state has achieved all these due to focussed and dedicated approach to the entire law and order machinery adding it was aware of its responsibilities in ensuring safety and security to its citizens.

The state government also highlighted that during the past three months, Nagaland like the rest of the country and the world, was battling the global pandemic and for which tremendous support were extended by civil societies, church, NGOs and all stake holders. In this, DIPR said the government had set up a State War Room against COVID-19. 

DIPR also said the state government had extended help to more than 2.12 lakh stranded migrants with rations and means while giving cash assistance to 37,766 people of Nagaland stranded outside in DBT mode and thus becoming the first state in India to do so. It also cited special trains to being back stranded people to the state and provided relief to four lakh below poverty people of the state for three months ; providing health care, food, accommodation and logistics to thousands at government expense during the pandemic.

DIPR also said the state government was in constant touch with the prime minister, home minister and other central ministers on a weekly-basis to combat the crisis while the entire bureaucracy headed by the chief secretary, senior officials AHoDs were also working members of Team Nagaland and also participated in regular meetings with union cabinet secretary and union ministries.

 

-Tags:#Governor

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