6 Eastern Nagaland districts abstain from voting amid shutdown call over ‘frontier territory’ demand

Kohima, April 19: Election officials at 738 polling stations in six Eastern Nagaland districts waited for over nine hours on Friday, but none of the 4 lakh (approx) voters from the region showed up due to a call to abstain from the electoral process given by the Naga organisations pressing for their demand for a separate ‘Frontier Nagaland Territory’.

Elsewhere, a voter turnout of around 57 per cent was recorded for the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state that went to the polls under tight security cover on Friday.

Despite the indefinite shutdown call given by the Naga bodies from Thursday evening, the Election Commission made all efforts to conduct polling in the six districts covering 20 of the state’s 60 Assembly segments.

The 20 MLAs representing the Eastern Nagaland region also did not exercise their franchise, responding to the ‘abstain from voting’ call given by the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO), the apex body of seven tribes from the six districts.

In a show cause notice to the ENPO, Nagaland’s Chief Electoral Officer R. Vyasan has indicated taking appropriate action under the Indian Penal Code for the ‘abstention’ call given by the tribal body.

Meanwhile, after casting his vote at Touphema, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said the state government has proposed the constitution of an autonomous body for the development of Eastern Nagaland and its people.

“The Election Commission has served a show cause notice to the ENPO for calling upon the people to abstain from voting,” the Chief Minister told the media.

Rio also said that he has accepted the draft working paper for the ‘Frontier Nagaland Territory’, which was handed over to him earlier in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

The ENPO in support of its ‘Frontier Nagaland Territory’ or separate state demand had earlier urged the people to abstain from voting in six Eastern Nagaland districts — Mon, Tuensang, Longleng, Kiphire, Shamator, and Noklak.

The ENPO had also urged the 20 legislators from Eastern Nagaland to remain indoors on Friday to “prevent any untoward incidents”.

Seven backward tribes — Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Phom, Tikhir, Sangtam, and Yimkhiung — live in the six Eastern Nagaland districts.

The Nagaland government, Chief Minister Rio, Deputy Chief Minister Yanthungo Patton, and the Eastern Nagaland Legislators’ Union (ENLU) had earlier separately urged the ENPO to participate in the electoral process.

The lone Lok Sabha seat in Nagaland is being contested by S. Supongmeren Jamir of the Congress, ruling NDPP candidate Chumben Murry, and Hayithung Tungoe Lotha, an Independent nominee.

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