Nagaland higher and technical education minister Temjen Imna Along Longkumer (second from right) along with department officials during a press conference in Kohima on Monday

Kohima: Nagaland minister of higher and technical education Temjen Imna Along Longkumer on Monday announced that the law is supreme and if any of the officers are found guilty, the department shall leave no stone unturned to punish them. Longkumer was referring to the issue of scholarship misappropriation under the technical education that was brought out in the 2018 report of the Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) of India.

The CAG in its report for the year ending March 31, 2017, had reported the misappropriation of Rs 1.32 crore by the department, following which the All Nagaland College Students’ Union (ANCSU) had been intervening into the matter. The students’ body had staged a dharna outside the department’s office on May 31 demanding the resignation of director Arjun Singh after details of the fund misused were not disseminated.

Addressing the press conference, Longkumer clarified that the misuse of the technical scholarship fund which was reported by the CAG was based on the years 2014-16, at a time when most officials were not even in office. Stating that it is not a new issue, he further accused the ANCSU of misleading the public and that the matter has been taken over by the Lokayukta (formerly the vigilance) ever since.

Although the department respected the letter and Right to Information (RTI) which the ANCSU had earlier filed and to which the department duly replied, the recent letter (ultimatum) which demanded the resignation of the director within five days “had gone a little bit too far”. Longkumer added that “the issue of the CAG report on which they had based their allegations is a subject matter in the Lokayukta”.

Longkumer then expressed his disappointment over the use of words and slogans used by the ANCSU against the department “without knowing that law is in the hands of the appellate authority which is investigating the issue” . Further clarifying, he said that the CAG report 2017 which showed discrepancies was noted by the directorate and had later recovered the missing amount. Kathop P Awomi, president of ANCSU, during his address at the dharna, revealed that Rs 2.12 crore were recovered by the directorate.

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“Our endeavour is to support our students and not to eat their scholarships,” said Longkumer, who assured that he is committed to a “corruption free department” and that no discrepancies shall be made in the technical scholarship henceforth.

Longkumer concluded saying that the final verdict of the law shall be made known to all the people through the right medium further assuring that if any official of the department is proved guilty, the government shall leave no stone unturned.

Besides Longkumer, the press conference was attended by the department commissioner and secretary Dinesh Kumar, officer on special duty Er Vipulhou Lhoungu, and other department officers, except the director who was on leave.

Furthermore, the department, as an initiative to support and encourage students, will be organising a “tech fest” from July 31 to August 2.

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