Meghalaya: Students' body to hold peaceful protest in Shillong

Shillong: The prolonged violence in Manipur has left neighbouring states in the Northeast alarmed, leading the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) to hold a peaceful sit-in demonstration in Shillong.

The demonstration was organised by the Khasi Students Union (KSU), spearheaded by NESO. Participants from different student organisations representing various communities joined the demonstration held at Firebrigade in Shillong on Thursday.

NESO chairman Samuel Jyrwa lashed out at the Government of India for failing to normalize the situation in Manipur. Terming it as political injustice, Jyrwa said that it is sad that the government of India has not taken any initiative, and this injustice has been taking place since independence.

“We’ve seen the government of India using the draconian law, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, against the indigenous people of the North Eastern region. We have seen the security forces, and the atrocities they have committed in different states of the North Eastern region in the name of fighting insurgency,” added Jyrwa.

NESO chairman informed that when they had visited Manipur, they had submitted a memorandum to the Governor, the chief minister of the state, and also to the Prime Minister of the country. “But till today, it’s very sad that the government of India has not taken any initiative on the part of the indigenous people of the Northeast. Different speakers have called upon the indigenous people of the NE to be united. Right from earlier times while living together, we have friction. We have disagreements. We have a difference of opinion; all this is fine. But we should try to solve our differences through negotiation, through dialogue, through a process that is peaceful,” said Jyrwa.

He mentioned that they consulted with all the stakeholders in Manipur, and they were of the opinion that there is something more sinister than meets the eye. “This is a very dangerous trend. This is a very unfortunate incident that happened in Manipur, and I feel as NESO, we felt that the government of India has failed terribly to address the situation in Manipur. We have called upon the government of India to resolve the issue. But till today, it seems that the government of India is still turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the sufferings of the people of Manipur. How long will this go on? The people’s lives are at stake, loss of property, the students’ careers are at stake and being destroyed, one generation can be destroyed because of this crisis, but the government of India is not paying any attention,” mentioned Jyrwa.

NESO, with the support of all the student organisations, has demanded that the government of India should take the initiative to bring about permanent peace in the state of Manipur.

NESO has also demanded that the GOI should call all the parties to the negotiating table and start a dialogue so that an early solution that is agreeable to all the stakeholders of the state of Manipur can be reached so that peace can once again prevail.

He added that if the government of India still delays to take the initiative, it only proves that the government of India is not interested in the welfare of the indigenous people of the Northeast but is only interested in its land and its resources. “And this will only further alienate the indigenous peoples of the North East from the mainland of India,” said Jyrwa.

NESO chairman further said that this is a warning to the government of India that if they want to alienate the people of NE from mainland India, the ball is in the court of the government of India, and they should act now or the time may be too late.

Meanwhile, leaders of other student groups had their speeches, among them were KSU president Lambokstar Marngar, Sadon Blah, MARA Students organization president C Lalrinemi, Shillong Manipuri Students organisation president Chongtham Thangamba Meetei, Kuki Students Organisation (KSO) president, Thangjalen Doungel, among others.

Blah, in his speech, questioned the sustainability of this ethnic clash. He condemned the rapes and murders that have taken place in Manipur, stating it was unacceptable. “The ethnic clashes in Manipur are a recurring phenomenon, and this present government has not taken the right measures to deal with the situation. Communal games are being played by the institutions that have the power to control the situation. How can the conflict in Manipur sustain for so many months and also with great intensity? The question we need to ask is about the sustainability of the conflict. Had this conflict not been supported by this or that group, it wouldn’t have lasted, so there is a political game being played by the political masters be it from the state or the central government,” said Blah.

Shillong Manipuri Students’ Organisation president Chongtham Thangamba Meetei said that he was concerned for both communities, and that he wasn’t representing only the Meitei community but he was there for the whole of Manipur. “How long will this violence go on? It is time for the government to bring both communities to a dialogue table and find a solution,” said Thangamba.

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Kuki Students Organisation president, Thangjalen Doungel, said that the primary objective of every government is to protect the rights of the people, but now the central government has not taken any positive steps to neutralise the situation in Manipur. “Six months have passed, thousands have been displaced, hundreds killed, and students have dropped out from schools and colleges. The situation has reached a peak, and yet the central government has remained to be mute spectators. They are more concerned about external affairs but not about its own citizens,” said Doungel.

He urged the central government to treat them as first-class citizens or like how the mainland Indians are treated. “The Home Minister came to Manipur in June and assured that peace will be brought within 15 days, but it’s more than four months, yet no positive solution,” stated the KSO president.

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