Kohima: The Nagaland government on Tuesday officially called off the ongoing Hornbill Festival as a mark of respect to the civilians killed in the firing incidents during a botched-up security operation last weekend.
The decision to cancel the marquee event that showcases the culture of the Northeastern state, was taken in a meeting of the state cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, a government spokesperson said.
Nagaland Minister for Planning Neiba Kronu said the cabinet has decided to cancel all activities in view of the mourning announced for the deceased in the firing incidents.
The cabinet also appealed to all elected representatives, government employees and others to support entrepreneurs, who have set up stalls for the Hornbill festival, by purchasing items from them. A simple and
solemn closing ceremony would be organised by the tourism department for the festival.
Nagaland Commissioner and Secretary for Tourism I. Kitto Zhimomi has apologised on behalf of the state government for the cancellation of the event. He hoped the cancellation of the festival because of the
unfortunate firing incident will not discourage tourists from visiting Nagaland again.
He asked the tourists to empathize with the people of Nagaland.
The Nagaland government’s decision came days after the state plunged into turmoil over the death of 15 people including 14 civilians in firing incidents during a botched-up security operation.
The ten-day festival, held at Naga Heritage Village in Kisama near the state capital, was slated to end on December 10.
According to official sources, the cabinet meeting reviewed the situation after the firing incidents at Oting Village in Mon district on Saturday and Sunday’s mob attack on the 27 Assam Rifles camp in Mon town, which left 14 civilians and a security force personnel dead.
The Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organization (ENPO) – a representative body of six tribes of eastern Nagaland – had earlier directed people to stay away from the festival to express solidarity with the victims.
While 13 villagers including six daily wage labourers of a colliery died in two separate incidents of firing between Tiru and Oting village under Tizit sub-division on Saturday, another villager took part in a violent protest on Sunday against the incidents was killed in a fresh round of firing by the forces.
A soldier also was killed.