Ground Report From Diphupar, Epicentre Of Nagaland Protests
As you land at Nagaland's Dimapur airport and come out of the terminal, eerie scenes greet you. Apart from the few cars that have been specifically allowed to operate by the protesters, there is practically no transport available. For the media, cars are allowed but at every road blockage, you're asked for identity proof and sometimes you're also asked to show your camera or microphone to ensure you're not lying. Media reached Diphupar on Friday afternoon - is the epicentre of the protest as far as Dimapur is concerned.
The two boys who were killed in firing on Wednesday are from Diphupar. After negotiating multiple road blocks, we reach the fourth mile junction. There is a crowd, a mix of young men and elderly gentlemen.
Lanutoshi, the chairman of Diphupar village council meets us. "This is about justice for the two boys who have given their life for the cause of Nagas, we are not going to back down."
The protest started over the urban local body election. Many in Nagaland feel that if the elections are accepted, it would ultimately lead to a violation of the safeguards that are provided to areas like Nagaland under Article 371(A) of the constitution.
"We have certain rights the article 371(A) ensures that we enjoy. The set of laws under which these urban local body elections have been held are violating the principles of article 371 (A)", Mr Lanutoshi added.
Practically every road in Dimapur and Kohima has been blocked by protesters. Smoke billows from the burning wood and tyres on the national highway. Huge trees that lined the road have been chopped and these tree trunks block the road. There are no government vehicles on the road, the ones that had ventured out have been set ablaze.
The protesters are showing no signs of relenting. Emotions are running high as the issue is seen as a confrontation with the government over tribal rights. Young people are out on the streets, the situation is simmering. The government in an attempt to control the situation from worsening further has blocked internet services in Dimapur and Kohima. But that hasn't deterred those who are on the streets. They say they will not back down till the chief minister and his cabinet resign.
The government meanwhile has taken a few steps to calm down the protesters. The elections have been declared null and void. The Police Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Kohima have been transferred. But protests are expected to continue.
The protesters have buried the bodies of the two young men on Friday evening but it will take days of effort for the situation to return to normal and no one is willing to commit to a timeline.
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