In a damning indictment of the Neiphiu Rio government, Nagaland Governor RN Ravi has said armed gangs are brazenly running their own governments in the state challenging the legitimacy of its elected authority and creating a "crisis of confidence" in the system.
Describing the scenario in the state as "grim", Mr Ravi said he has been closely observing the precarious law and order situation with lots of concern since August 2019 when he assumed office.
In a letter to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, the governor warned he will promulgate Article 371A(1)(b) of the Constitution, which gives the Nagaland governor special responsibility with respect to law and order, if things did not improve.
RN Ravi also gave enough indication of his intention to have a greater say in the administration, as he proposed to periodically review the law and order situation and issue directions.
Both Mr Rio's Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), a BJP ally, and the opposition Naga People's Front (NPF) refrained from commenting on the June 16 letter circulating on social media platforms since Thursday.
While none in the chief minister's office agreed to speak about it, state chief secretary Temjen Toy confirmed the receipt of the letter. He, however, was tight-lipped when asked to comment on its content.
The constitutionally established state government is being challenged on a day to day basis by the armed gang who question the sovereignty and integrity of the nation while the instruments of law and order remain totally unresponsive.
"In such a backdrop I can no longer abstain from my constitutional obligations for law and order in the State under Article 371A (1)(b) of the Constitution of India, the letter said.
It said hereafter important law and order decisions like transfer and posting of officials entrusted with the maintenance of law and order of and above the district level will be taken only after the approval of the governor.
RN Ravi said, day to day unrestrained depredations by over a dozen organized armed gang, brazenly running their respective so called governments, challenging the legitimacy of the state government without any resistance from the law and order machinery has created a crisis of confidence in the system. The rampant extortions and violence by armed gangs has taken a toll on the Naga people, he wrote.
The state government development departments are under duress to give regular ransom to the armed gangs. Town commands of these gangs keep the people in towns and its neighbourhood terrorized. Brazen display of fire power by the rival gangs for turf control drive the people to panic, the letter stated.
The governor said criminal gangs were running syndicates dealing in contraband goods and alcoholic drinks.
They are operating check gates for this purpose at almost every entry point within the knowledge of the state government. 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 criminals, he said.