Terming organisations as ‘armed gangs’ may not be in the interest of peace process, Nagaland govt tells governor RN Ravi
Kohima: In a lengthy statement issued by the state government through the DIPR on Thursday, the Nagaland government said that the "assessment of the law and order being precarious and grim and having deteriorated and collapsed since August 2019 does not appear to be factual".
This comes as a response to the letter written by Nagaland governor and interlocutor for Naga peace talks RN Ravi to the chief minister of Nagaland Neiphiu Rio where Ravi expressed "concern" that "over half a dozen organized armed gangs" are "brazenly running their respective so called 'Governments' challenging the legitimacy of the state government without any resistance from the state law and order machinery" which has "created a crisis of confidence in the system".
The full text is as below:
"The State Government is of the view that the assessment of the law and order being precarious and grim and having deteriorated and collapsed since August 2019 does not appear to be factual. The State of Nagaland was born out of a political settlement. However, in the last 57 years of its existence, the political problem still remains unresolved. This issue has been acknowledged as a political issue and the Government of India has been negotiating with Naga Political Groups (NPGs) since 1997. These political negotiations are being held at the highest level with successive Prime Ministers, including the present Hon’ble Prime Minister meeting the leadership of the political organization. The Government of India has appointed an interlocutor as representative of the GoI to carry out the political dialogue since declaration of the ceasefire and inception of the political talks.
The Honourable Governor was the interlocutor of the talks and was later appointed as Hon’ble Governor of Nagaland on 1st August 2019. His appointment as Hon’ble Governor was welcomed by all with the high expectations that the talks would successfully conclude with an honorable and acceptable political solution. The State Government is pleased that with the signing of the Framework agreement of 3rd August 2015 and conclusion of the talks on 31st October 2019, a political solution is in sight. An early solution is not only in the interest of the State of Nagaland and its citizens but it is also definitely in the national interest as the problem has stretched out for decades. Peace in Nagaland will also ensure stability in the entire region. At the political level the stand of the present PDA Government- a pre-poll alliance between the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has been to facilitate the political settlement at all levels.
The Central Government is in a ceasefire agreement with the Naga national political groups for more than two decades and the talks are reported to have concluded in October 2019 and accordingly the people are expecting an early political solution. The State Government feels that terming the organizations 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 Oct 2019, the issue of sustenance of the political organisations should have been discussed and resolved.
Nagaland has come a long way from precarious law and order and security situation in the last several decades. There have been assassination attempts on the lives of VIPs including the incumbent Chief Minister when he was the then Works & Housing Minister on 30thMay, 1995, and serious challenges to fulfilment of constitutional obligations like participating in elections. Despite these challenges the Constitution has always been upheld. The voting percentage in successive state elections which has ranged between 78% to 92% in the last three decades is a testimony to the people’s support for the constitutional process. It was also pointed out that the voting percentage of Nagaland in the national elections has been consistently above the national voting percentage. The period through the 1990s witnessed the most volatile security environment when killings of common people, fratricidal deaths, and violent factional clashes took place on a regular basis.
The overall law and order situation in the State continues to be normal and peaceful. All the wings of the law and order machinery of the State are working effectively in tandem to ensure a peaceful atmosphere in the State. From time to time, however, there have been occasions when antisocial and unruly elements at certain places have made attempts to vitiate the situation by trying to impose illegal taxes and carry out extortions, and the State Police has been all along very proactive in dealing with such cases. In fact more than 95% of the cases relating to extortion, the cases have been registered suo-motu by the Police, which takes cognizance of any complaint that comes, and there are enough supervisory officers provided also to ensure that action is swiftly taken. Further anti-extortion cell has been constituted in all the districts headed by the SDPO of the district along with other personnel. In Dimapur, which is the scene of most of the action, the teams are headed by DCP rank officers. Mobile Highway Patrolling for anti extortion measures are also operational in Kohima and Dimapur along the National Highway.
It may be further mentioned that in March 2018 a Special Task Force(STF) has also been established by the Nagaland Police to augment its operational capabilities in terms of Raids, Cordon and Search Operations for apprehending extortionists and criminals.The STF has been trained in special weapons and tactics and is presently is two company strength, which is sought to be further augmented in due course.The State Police in its efforts towards further improving the security situation has in coordination with District Administration and other security agencies have been making serious efforts in combating any illegal elements in all the Districts of the State last year.
The State Police along with Assam rifles and other SFs has 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. The arrests have been made on the basis of the violation of Arms act, Explosive act, offence against the State, UA(P) act, abduction/kidnapping for ransom, NSR act, murder and robbery.The Anti-extortion drive all across the state carried out by the State Police has been intensive. A total of 713 extortion cases have been registered in the last 5(five) years and a total of 1007 extortionists have been arrested during the period.
The law and order machinery led by the Nagaland Police has also been keeping a strict vigil for warding off the attempt by any antisocial or criminal elements to derail the developmental activities in the State, particularly the construction of roads, by creating terror or indulging in extortion activities. As suggested by the Hon’ble Governor, a SIT (Special Investigation Team) for extortion related cases on Highway Construction companies has been functioning since 21stJanuary, 2020 and the main purpose of this team is to swiftly and effectively look into any such cases and take effective action. A total of 6(six) cases were taken up for investigation by the SIT. 4(Four) cases were registered suo-motu and (2) two cases were transferred from Longleng district. A total of 6(six) functionaries of various factions were arrested including a SS Deputy Kilonser and SS Finance Secretary. Further, an additional 3(three) criminal cases have further been registered suo-motu and investigation is on.
Besides the SIT, Nagaland Police has formed the Highway Protection Force in January, 2020 for securing the highways and construction activities and appointed nodal officers in rank of AddlSP/DySP to coordinate security related issues with highway construction companies. Mobile and Static deployments of police force have also been done in all highway construction company camp sites for security.It may be mentioned that the number of incidents of serious and heinous crimes occurring in Nagaland has seen a gradual decrease over the years. 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. The total number of murder cases reported in the state in 2019 was 23 as compared to 39 in 2018 and the number of murder cases till date this year is 9. Further, the total number of rapes in 2019 was 19, compared to a total of 11 cases in 2018 and a total of 3 cases have been reported thus far in 2020(till date). As the NCRB figures indicate, the total number of heinous and grave offences in the State is coming down and further efforts are on to minimize them.
The incidents of killing involving inter-factional clashes, attacks on security forces and civilians killed over a block of five years since 2001 stands as indicated:in 2001-2005,the total number of incidents was 94, in 2006-2010,the total number of incidents was 215, in 2011-2015 the total number of incidents was 116, and in the last five years,2015-2020 the total number of incidents have reduced to only 15, reflective of the improved law and order situation and the overall peaceful atmosphere prevailing in the state.
Among the cases pertaining to inter-factional clashes, there was one such case in Dimapur last year during August 2019, when a SS Major of one faction was shot dead by rival faction, resulting in factional standoff between rival groups. The Police took swift action and 4 (four) accused involved in the killing were arrested, thereby averting a major factional clash.The State Police and Administration over the past many years in coordination with the other security forces have been actively taking steps on this front to ensure that any situation likely to lead to such incidents are dealt with firmness at the initial stage itself and the decline in numbers show the success of such efforts.
The State Government has been seized of the matter of land encroachment including on Government forest land. These issues are being dealt with the utmost seriousness but require constant effort as they have accumulated over a long period of time. A major eviction drive was also carried out on 26/06/2020 in Wokha under Bhandari sub division by a team of district administration, district police and district forest officials and eviction process is on.Regarding the encroachment of Manglumukh Forest Colony and Intangki National Park, the encroachment dates back to 1993 and since then several attempts were made to evict the encroachers upto 2002. Thereafter some of these areas were converted into NSCN-IM designated camp. Meanwhile Forest Circle Level Committees at the State and district levels are being alerted and their operations enhanced.
The conviction rates, which in any situation is dependent on various factors, has also received due attention of the Government. The capacities of the Investigating Officers are being built by imparting several trainings to them in a structured manner. Steps have been taken for upgrading the forensic capabilities in the State and regular review meetings are being taken in the districts with all concerned for sorting out legal issues and ensuring rise in the conviction rates.
With regard prices of essential commodities it is observed that that while there may be some escalation of construction goods in Nagaland, all essential items in Nagaland are sold at or below specified Maximum Retail Price (MRP). There are no reports of essential goods and commodities, especially Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) being sold above MRP. Unlike in the past, many companies are now operating from within Nagaland and companies like Amazon now have operational offices in Kohima and Dimapur. In fact, most of the essential commodities, construction goods and consumer products are cheaper in Nagaland than in Manipur, Mizoram etc.
With regard to improvement of road network all over the state, the matter remains a topmost priority for the State Government. The road condition within the cities of Kohima and Dimapur has greatly improved. Of late, even the Kohima-Dimapur four lane project is making appreciable progress but for the intervening lockdown period. Regarding projects being implemented by NHIDCL, the State Government had last reviewed the progress on 4thMarch, 2020 with MD of NHIDCL as well as the contractors and the senior state government officials including DCs of concerned districts. The meeting which was chaired by the Honourable Chief Minister, was also attended by the MD of NHIDCL and other officials. The feedback from the implementing agencies was that DCs and the State government were providing fullest support and cooperation to deal with any problems that they faced in execution of their projects.
There was time in Nagaland when it was difficult to celebrate national days like Independence Day and the Republic Day peacefully in the State. Today, we not only celebrate these national days but also the Annual State Day on a grand scale with enthusiastic participation of the people from all walks of life. The improvement in the security environment of the state is also evident from the increased arrival of tourists during the Hornbill Festival which touched a record of 55,000 last year. Nagaland also hosted the North Eastern DGP Conference in 2019 for the very first time. Sporting events like, Dr. T Ao Football Trophy, Naga Wrestling and a host of other national events are attracting record crowds. Likewise, Music and arts are seen as the rising sectors of our economy. Today, Nagaland is already home to one of the biggest music festivals of the country namely, Hornbill International Music Festival and the State Government is making all out efforts to ensure that Nagaland remains the music capital of the country and emerges as one of the most important centers of music in the ASEAN region.
On the matter relating to Article. 371 (A) (1) (b) State Government pointed out that this procedure of taking approval of Honorable Governor for transfer and posting of senior government officials was done away with after a Resolution adopted by the Nagaland Legislative Assembly on 17th December 2013. Ever since the curtains have fallen on this issue and Nagaland has come at par with other States in this respect.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 period of formation of Nagaland State.
In the light of facts and the above cited points, The State Government is of the view that it is obvious that Nagaland is witnessing a period of peace and harmony and development efforts have been undertaken on a war footing. Despite difficulties of weak resources, limited working period, challenging weather conditions, limited specialized human resources, and many other factors, the present State Government is performing in a commendable manner with appreciable efforts of the government machineries and renewed commitment from all ranks of officers and staff.The good law and order of the State is also getting regular endorsements and as a matter of fact Nagaland got adjudged the best performing small State in Law and Order by the India Today Group State of State’s survey for two years in a row. This significant achievement has been made possible by the focused and dedicated approach of the entire Law and Order machinery and the security forces in the State, and they deserve fullest appreciation for that.The State law and order machinery is fully aware of its responsibilities to maintain law and order, to provide safety and security to citizens and to control crime in the state on a continuous basis. The Government is fully committed to discharge these responsibilities in a befitting manner.
The State Government finds it pertinent to highlight that in the past three months, like the rest of the world and the country, Nagaland too is battling the crisis of the global pandemic. The State has received overwhelming support from the civil societies, church organizations, NGOs and all stake holders in combating the pandemic on all fronts. The setting up of the State War Room which have been very useful in our battle against COVID 19. The government machineries, frontline workers and law enforcing agencies including the administrations have performed in a commendable manner so far. More than 2.12 Lakh stranded migrants have been assisted with rations and meals, and 37,766 people of Nagaland stranded outside the State have been reached with cash assistance in a DBT mode becoming the first state in the country to do so. Special trains have also been arranged and paid for by the State Government for their return to their home States. Citizens below the poverty line have been allocated relief rations for three months benefiting more than 4 lakh citizens of Nagaland. The State’s health facilities and infrastructure is being improved and upgraded on a war footing. Thousands of returnees are being provided all facilities of health care, food, accommodation and logistics at government expense to prevent the spread of the Pandemic in the state. These are just some of the highlights of the actions and initiatives which the State Government has undertaken in the past three and half months.
The Honorable Chief Minister has been in constant touch with the Honorable Prime Minister, the Honorable Union Home Minister and other Ministers on a weekly basis as Nagaland joined the rest of the nation and the global community in combating the crisis. Likewise, the Chief Secretary and senior officials and AHODs etc. have been working relentlessly as members of Team Nagaland. Our officials led by the Chief Secretary have participated in regular meetings with the Union Cabinet Secretary and other union ministries".