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galand Speaker warns tribal groups against coercion of MLAs

Kohima, Feb 8: galand assembly Speaker Chotisuh Sazo on Wednesday warned the tribal organisations against threatening and coercing legislators into tendering their resigtion or withdrawing their support to the government. There has been a growing demand by the tribal organisations for the resigtion of Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang for deciding to conduct elections to urban civic bodies with 33 per cent reservation for women. On Tuesday night, the ga tribal organisations under the banner of galand Tribes Action Committee (NTAC) and Joint Coordition Committee (JCC) served a three-day ultimatum to Zeliang to step down.

The tribals are demanding the resigtion of the Zeliang ministry following the government’s decision to hold local bodies elections in 12 towns across the state and the death of two persons in clashes between the police and protesters at Dimapur, the commercial hub of galand, on January 31 night. The government has appointed L.N. Sema, a retired District and Session Judge, to make a detailed inquiry and submit report about the violent incidents, and in particular the mob violence, which occurred in Dimapur on January 31. Various ga tribal groups have opposed the 33 per cent reservation for women, saying that it will infringe on customary laws and also violate Article 371A of the Constitution that grants special status to galand and guarantees preservation of such laws.

Government offices remained closed and government vehicles were not seen plying on the roads due to the indefinite shutdown the gas have called to mount pressure on Zeliang to step down. “Legislators are elected by their respective constituents for a period of five years but are free to tender their resigtions and/or withdraw their support to the Leader of the House of their own volition, choice or conscience. But it would amount to an illegal or crimil act if any legislator is coerced, forced or threatened to tender their resigtion, or withdraw support by any one, group or organisation,” Sazo said in a statement. On the demand for the Chief Minister’s resigtion, the Speaker said: “The Chief Minister is not elected by the people but by the representatives of the people in the assembly, and is considered the First among Equals as long as he enjoys the confidence and support of the majority of the total number of legislators.” Zeliang had told jourlists earlier that he would step down if his government is reduced to minority.

“For now, I am enjoying the majority, 58 out of 60, of the elected members in the assembly. We have to uphold the Constitution,” he said. Private and government educatiol institutions, banks and health centres have been exempted from the purview of the shutdown by gas. “No untoward incident has been reported so far. The shutdown has been peaceful. Police are keeping a watch on the strike and will function accordingly,” galand Police chief L.L. Doungel said. galand has never elected a women legislator since it gained statehood in 1963. The lone woman member of Parliament from the state was Rano M. Shaiza, who got elected in 1977.(IANS)

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Ankur Kalita