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Kohima burns as mob torch govt offices

Source: | Friday, February 3, 2017

February 2, 1027: Kohima burned when mobs torched the more than 50-year old complex which housed the office of the Kohima Municipal Council (KMC) and flames spread and engulfed the nearby Superintendent Excise Office and Regional Transport Office within no time. The mobs stoned the DC office but were prevented from doing
further damage due to intervention by some people. The crowd also stone pelted the PHED office.

However, the State Information Office and Old secretariat were burned while NPF office was reportedly vandalised and set on fire.
Rampaging mobs literally took over the streets in Kohima in the face of total breakdown of the law and order machinery. The state government machinery in the state capital was totally paralysed and the Assam Rifles had to be called in to aid the civil administration in containing further worsening of the situation.

Sec. 144 CrPC imposed: In view of the prevailing tense situation in Kohima, deputy commissioner (DC) Kohima and district magistrate, Rajesh Soudararajan, has imposed Section 144 CrPC in four colonies -- Old Ministers’ hill areas, Jail colony, Police headquarter junction and Raj Bhavan area starting February 2 from 9.30 pm till further notice.

Earlier in the morning, on day-two, an emotionally charged crowd of around 40,000 had gathered at the tri-junction below Old MLA Hostel where the coffins containing the bodies of the two slain youths were kept in order to take up the next course of action so that the burial would eventually take place. However, the decision was on whether to hold the burial or await the arrival of the governor of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, P.B.Acharya, who was expected to reach Kohima at 4 p.m. by chopper from Itanagar.

The newly floated Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (comprising of representative of all apex Naga tribes in Kohima) proposed to place the following demands before the Governor when he arrived Kohima Thursday evening: resignation of chief minister and cabinet on or before 4 pm Thursday; declaring as null and void the ULB elections and suspension of erring police personnel involved in the firing incident on February 1. 

NTAC convener K.T Velie informed public of the three charters of demands of NTAC and said that funeral service will not be held till its
demands are met. However, the Governor did not leave Arunachal Pradesh but through tele-fax, accepted the demand of the NTAC to “defer the ULB election process” and have constructive dialogue with the NTAC and also to institute a judicial inquiry into the firing incident.

When the deadline of 4 p.m. arrived, the crowd became angry and demanded that the body be taken in procession to the residence of the chief minister since there was no response yet to the demands.

Much later, in a written reply, the chief minister T.R Zeliang did not mention about demands for his resignation and that of the cabinet
but instead informed that the recent ULB elections have been declared null and void and also that the Police Commissioner Dimapur will be transferred immediately to impartial judicial inquiry. In his reply the chief minister also appealed to allow completion of the funeral rites of the departed souls. AYO volunteers including APO and NTAC officials did all they could to bring the situation under control and prevented the coffins from being moved out.

Leaders of various tribes also made fervent appeals on the already agitated and section of the crowd to maintain calm and reaffirming that the two bodies would not be buried till the main demand for the resignation of the government was met. 

Meanwhile against the backdrop of the ongoing issue, eight tribal bodies comprising of Zeliang people Organization, Kohima, Chakhesang
Public Organization, Kohima, Ao Union Kohima, Rengma Public Organization, Kohima; Kohima Sumi Hoho, Kohima Lotha Hoho and ENPO
Kohima Unit formed the committee. The newly formed NTAC was headed by Convener NTAC K.T Vilie and Secretary C.T Jamir.

AYO volunteers were deputed at Deputy Commissioner’s Office to prevent the mob from further damage. Owing to the bandh called by the AYO, fire brigades could not be pressed and there were no possibilities of averting the fire, thereby chances are high that the adjoining offices of KMC could be burned.

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