Over 50,000 students appeared for the Nagaland Board of School Education (NBSE) examinations after the agitating tribal groups exempted them from the purview of their indefinite shutdown to force Chief Minister TR Zeliang to resign.
A total of 55,190 students appearing for High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC), High Secondary School Leaving Certificate (HSSLC) and Class XI wrote their papers on Tuesday in 280 centres spread across the state.
NBSE officials said 22,446 students will appear for HSLC in 76 centres, 17,272 students in the class XI exam in 151 centres and 15,472 in the HSSLC in 54 centres.
The tribal groups – under the banner of Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC) and Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) – have intensified their agitation after Zeliang refused to accede to their demand and step down. Their three-day ultimatum in this regard ended on February 10.
"We have exempted the student's community appearing for the board exams from the purview of the shutdown in the interest of the state. We have allowed public and private vehicles to ferry students across to the examination centres," NTAC Convener KT Velie said.
Nagaland has been in turmoil since January after the Naga People's Front (NPF)-led state government decided to hold local body elections in 12 towns across the state.
Three people have died and many injured following clashes between the police and the public, who were opposing the conduct of the civic elections – where provisions have been made for reservation of seats for women.
Nagaland has never elected a woman legislator since it gained statehood in 1963. The only woman MP from the state was Rano M Shaiza, who got elected in 1977.
"We will continue with our shutdown till the chief minister resigns," Velie said.
The state secretariat, state and central government offices, banks, educational institutions, shops and other businesses remained closed.
National Highway-2, which connects the main commercial town of Dimapur with the poll-bound state of Manipur, was also affected.
Volunteers were seen picketing the road to prevent traffic movement and the government employees from attending their official duties, even as security forces were seen patrolling the roads to thwart any untoward incident.
"There has been no untoward incident during the shutdown hours (from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm) as people refrained from venturing into the streets," Nagaland Police chief LL Doungel said.
Zeliang, who termed the demand for his resignation as "unreasonable" and "unconstitutional", said his government was open to dialogue and more consultations.
Former Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, who is also the lone Lok Sabha member from Nagaland, briefed National Security Adviser Ajit Doval about the current situation with regard to the civic bodies elections.
Nagaland BJP legislators have appealed to the agitating tribal groups to come to the negotiating table with the government and resolve the matter amicably for the society to resume normal life at the earliest in the spirit of understanding and forgiveness.