Armed gangs rule Nagaland: Governor

R.N. Ravi’s letter to the CM says ‘scenario is grim, law and order has collapsed’.

Updated - June 25, 2020 10:52 pm IST

Published - June 25, 2020 05:49 pm IST - New Delhi

Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi. File photo

Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi. File photo

In a scathing letter to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi has said the “scenario in the State is grim” and that “law and order has collapsed”.

The four-page letter sent on June 16 said the constitutionally established State government is being challenged on a day-to-day basis by armed gangs who question the integrity and sovereignty of the nation, while the instruments of the law and order remain totally unresponsive. The Hindu has a copy of the letter.

The Governor said he could no longer abstain from constitutional obligations and proposed that under Article 371A (1) (b) of the Constitution, important functions like “transfer and posting of officials” entrusted with maintenance of law and order of and above the district level will be with the approval of the Governor.

The BJP is a key coalition partner in the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party-led government in Nagaland.

Mr. Ravi said the unrestrained daily depredations by over half a dozen organised and armed gangs, brazenly running their respective ‘so-called governments’, challenging the legitimacy of the government without any resistance from the State law and order machinery, has created a crisis of confidence in the system.

The letter highlighted that armed miscreants appoint their own dealers for every commodity from salt to construction material coming into the State and levy illegal taxes on every item. “Transporters have complained to me that there is over 200% cost escalation in transportation the moment a goods laden truck enters Nagaland due to gun point extortions by the armed miscreants,” the Governor said.

Funds siphoned off

The steady slide of Nagaland in various parameters such as road connectivity, health and education infrastructures can be attributed to “siphoning off a large chunk of government funds meant for development”, the Governor said.

Several national highways projects are stalled if 5-7% of the project cost is not given to armed gangs and there have been cases of kidnapping and assault on project engineers if there was a delay, the letter said.

“They have informed that how construction company officials are summoned to the Dimapur offices of the armed gangs for payments and negotiations… Sometimes these unlawful activities [take place] in the presence of senior officials of the State government including the Chief Secretary, Home Commissioner and the DGP (director general of police),” Mr. Ravi said.

Forests destroyed

The letter also mentions reports of the Forest Department revealing rampant encroachment and deforestation of forest land including reserve forests by armed miscreants.

“They have become audacious enough to evict the forest officials and their families from their residential houses at gun point….they do all these brazen illegal activities without any resistance whatsoever by the law enforcement authorities…when I asked the senior enforcement officers the reasons, they run silent and whisper ‘direction from above’,” the letter said.

In 2016, the National Investigation Agency registered a case to investigate cases against various State government departments that allegedly paid levies to Naga National Political Groups

Mr. Ravi said he had not come across a single case in which senior members of the gang had been implicated; in 98% of the cases, the accused are at large or bail is granted within a couple of days of arrest.

“I have been raising the concerns in all our formal and informal meetings with you and the law and order officials. However, I regret to say my urgings and advices at the political and bureaucratic levels have gone unheeded,” the letter to the Chief Minister said.

A 1976 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Kerala cadre, Mr. Ravi retired as Special Director in the Intelligence Bureau in 2012. He was appointed as chairman of Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) in September 2014 and was also made the interlocutor for Naga peace talks, a role he still holds. He was re-designated as deputy National Security Advisor in 2018 and was appointed as Nagaland Governor in July 2019.

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