Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) expressed its appreciation to Nagaland government and the All Nagaland College Students’ Union (ANCSU) over sorting out the issues amicably through verbal assurance. However, the NSF presses on to the government that verbal commitment without action will not be accepted, the students’ body said in a press statement.

The protest in Dimapur has also been called off after the ANCSU informed the colleges that the government has “positively assured” the students’ body of its demands. Indefinite hunger strike called off by the ANCSU.

Update: ANCSU has called off the hunger strike. ANCSU VP Benjong Longchar has just revealed it at a press conference. The government has assured the students’ body of all its demands and therefore it was called off.

Update: ANCSU leaders met CM Neiphiu Rio. As per ANCSU vice-president Benjong Longchar, the state government has “given assurance” and things (meeting) went well. However, no Official statement has been made so far. The ANCSU will have an internal meeting after which they will address the press at 6 pm today.

About 5,000 students from 19 colleges are participating in rallies at three locations of Dimapur — Purana Bazaar, Nagarjan junction and Bhatta Chareli to extend support to ANCSU. None of these students are on a hunger strike. Students from St. Joseph’s University which does not fall under ANCSU, also came out in support.

Students took to the streets in Dimapur to show resentment against the government in support of ANCSU. So far, the protest has been a peaceful gathering and there are no reports of bandh in Dimapur. ANCSU VP Benjong Longchar said, “It is an initiative of Dimapur district colleges in solidarity to the issues that ANCSU have taken up”. Besides, activities in the commercial hub are all normal.

Visuals from the protest

Students protesting in Dimapur
Students from across colleges in Dimapur have participated in the protest

ANCSU member unions are still observing hunger strike from their own respective places. Soon, 8-10 executives will be attending a meeting with state CM Neiphiu Rio today evening.

Directorate of Higher Education, Nagaland clarifies fund status.

Latest update: Indefinite hunger strike to continue today. The ANCSU will meet the chief minister at 2:30 pm today. ANCSU general secretary Vimeyiekho Vitso told media persons: “Till then, no mass gatherings will be done. Students will attend normal classes.”

The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) has condemned the “highhandedness of the police forces”. Through a press release, the NSF expressed “its strong resentment on the state government machineries for resorting to lathicharge, manhandling and the use of water cannons upon the peaceful agitating students in uniform called by the ANCSU at Nagaland Civil Secretariat while democratically protesting on its charter of demands and the inaction of the state government in addressing the same”. The statement read: “Taking serious note on the detention of the president, ANCSU, along with two of his colleagues, and the president, Capital College Students’ Union, the federation strongly objected to the highhandedness of the police forces as ‘heinous’ while at the same time appealed to the agitating members for calm and to show restraint” . Furthermore, “The federation acknowledges the demand of ANCSU as ‘genuine’ and extends its solidarity to the affected members. Reiterating on its stand that priority will be given to students’ issues the Federation further pressed on to the state government to resolve the issues with the urgency it deserves”.

Meanwhile, Nagaland higher and technical education minister Temjen Imna Along Longkumer’s official Twitter handle has gone “protected” and only confirmed followers will now have “access to his tweets and complete profile”.

Answering to a journalist’s question over the accusation that the ANCSU president had demanded Rs 15 lakh from the technical education director, general secretary Vimeyiekho Vitso responded: “We strongly question the allegation. If such kind of demand has been made by any of the members, then the department officials should not hide away or shy away in just blaming the union. The union has never demanded for any kind of factors and if they are assured and have the evidence that our members have demanded such thing, then they should publicly produce the evidence. But we warn them not to speculate without any proof or evidence”.

In the press conference called on Tuesday evening by the All Nagaland College Students’ Union (ANCSU), general secretary Vimeyiekho Vitso said: “We are compelled to come this far because the state government has neglected our genuine demands for many months/years. On several occasions, they have assured us that they will take serious actions but all those assurance turned out to be mere assurance and action being followed has not been seen by the student Community”. When enquired about reports of the Dimapur Naga Students’ Union (DNSU) not extending its support to the 19 colleges that have called for a total bandh on Wednesday, the ANCSU replied that no Official information has been received from any representative of these college institutions and that they have only seen it on social media.

“The current indefinite hunger strike called by the ANCSU issue dates back to 2014-2016; for non payment of scholarship meant for the technical students. During the said period(2014-’16), the portfelio of Higher and Technical Eduction was under another political leader and the officer designated of Director and the DDO of the Directorate of Technical Eduction are now no more in the directorate. This misappropriation of fund was audited by the CAG and the entire amount as indicated shortfall by CAG report has been recovered and deposited in the Govt. Treasury and was brought into notice by the CAG report ending March 2017. Investigation by the Vigilance Commission on the case was initiated and is presently taken up by the Lok Ayukta. Matter is also under investigation/pending with the PAC based on CAG report. Necessary action will be taken against the erring officials/staff’s basing on the findings of the Lokayukta and PAC. During such process of investigation and case pending period, untill the Director (Er Arjun Singh) or any staff is proved guilty, cannot be called as ‘chor'(thief). Therefore, Dharna/aggatiation/hunger strike/bandh etc. called in demand of anything pertaining to the above mentioned case during such period of investigation is not justified. Therefore, students of the colleges/technical Institutes are requested to abstain from such Dharna, hunger strike etc. and to patiently wait for the outcome of the final investigation report [sic],” said Akum O Tzudir, personal OSD to Nagaland higher and technical education minister Temjen Imna Along Longkumer on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Dimapur Naga Students’ Union, in an emergency meeting held at its office on Tuesday, resolved that the bandh proposed by 19 colleges of Dimapur tomorrow (June 5) is “without the knowledge” of the union and decided that “it will not encourage the said indefinite bandh”.

All Nagaland College Students’ Union general secretary Vimeyiekho Vitso and vice-presindent Benjong Longchar addressing the media in Kohima on Tuesday evening:

The allegations over the misuse of students’ scholarship for the period 2014-2016 is being taken up seriously by the state government and an inquiry by the Nagaland Lokayukta is already underway, the press statement released by the chief secretary of Nagaland on Tuesday evening further added.

The press statement released by the chief secretary of Nagaland on Tuesday evening also clarified that the state government has taken up all measures to ensure that scholarships of students were released timely in a transparent manner and all the details can be found in the website.

In a statement released late on Tuesday, the chief secretary of Nagaland said that the student leaders carried out the agitation without approval of police or district administrations. “Despite this, the sate administration, police and law-enforcing agencies were prepared to take up peaceful demonstrations but it breached the peace prevailing in the state,” the statement added. The statement further informed that the detained student leaders were later released and no detentions were made further by the police. It further stated that the students agitating left the demonstrations in a peaceful manner.

Pointers from the press conference on Tuesday evening called by All Nagaland College Students’ Union (ANCSU) general secretary Vimeyiekho Vitso: The ANCSU had several rounds of discussions to take this decision today and we have declared our indefinite hunger strike from today onwards, Vitso said. The ANCSU accused the state government of using all forces and means to stop its members in going ahead with its demands. The ANCSU strongly condemned the arrest of its president Katho P Awomi and his colleagues. The ANCSU further questioned on what grounds they were arrested. The ANCSU condemned the lathicharge, use of water cannons and tear gas shells. Some students reportedly met with minor injuries in the incident. The intention of the students community was totally non-violent, said Vitso. The students’ body regretted the incident, which was “uncalled for”, and further condemned the “barbaric act”.

Police lathicharge, use tear gas shells to disperse protesting students in Nagaland

In some new videos emerging on social media, police are seen resorting to lathicharge and using tear gas shells on peaceful protestors in Kohima, Nagaland on Tuesday.

YouTube video

Students of 19 colleges call for Dimapur bandh tomorrow

Students of 19 colleges affiliated to the All Nagaland College Students’ Union (ANCSU) in Nagaland’s Dimapur district have called for a ‘total bandh’ from 10 am on Wednesday, “untill and unless the demands made by ANCSU is fulfilled”.

However, there will be an exemption for educational institutions, paramilitary forces, emergency services, medical and police personnel, administration and media persons, said a statement released on Tuesday evening.

Students no longer in sight. Police personnel have been spotted till the junction below Kohima North police station. The situation is under control. No casualties reported till now. ANCSU, administration and tribal bodies are at a closed-door meeting and are yet to update on the final status.

All Nagaland College Students’ Union president Katho P Awomi and his three colleagues who were detained on Tuesday morning were released in the afternoon. With the intervention of the Naga Students’ Federation and the Angami Youth Organisation (AYO), the president was presented before the crowd after the bodies negotiated with the police administration to disperse the protestors in a peaceful manner for the day. However, things turned ugly when Awomi addressed the students and refused to call off the hunger strike. The police had to then initiate action since the protests were carried out without permission from the administration. As of now, the situation is calm.

YouthNet founder Hekani Jakhalu slams Nagaland government over the incident:

Students brave the rain to protest in Kohima on Tuesday

Facebook users react to the police action on the protesting students in Kohima on Tuesday.

ANCSU president Katho P Awomi has confirmed that the student leaders who were detained were done no harm.

Protesting students have been disbursed from the secretariat plaza. ANCSU officials, administration and other organisations are now in talks.

Meanwhile, ANCSU president Katho P Awomi has confirmed that four of them were detained — three officials and one student leader. After their release, Awomi addressed the students and refused to call off the strike. As the police approached the president, who was seated with the students at that time, and took him towards the police car, the students began to shout and move towards the police. The police retaliated and disbursed the students from the venue with water cannons.

ANCSU president Katho P Awomi

The ANCSU also demanded the implementation of a nodal cell for scholarship schemes.

The ANCSU has been demanding “immediate resignation of the technical education director of Nagaland and initiate action against those officials involved in the misappropriation of state technical scholarship funds amounting to Rs 1.32 crore.

As per the police, the student leaders who were detained earlier have been released. The exact number of how many student leaders were detained differed. While the police PRO confirmed the figure at two, the ANCSU vice-president revealed that four were detained.

Situation turned tense after police personnel stopped students from marching towards the office of the directorate of technical education on Tuesday morning. Later, leaders of various Naga organisations also joined the protest at the site in Kohima.

Earlier, submitting a 5-point demand, the All Nagaland College Students’ Union had written to Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio stating that an ‘indefinite hunger strike’ will be carried out by its members on Tuesday.

WATCH: Police use water cannons to disperse the protesting students in Kohima:

YouTube video

Students are protesting against the alleged misappropriation of technical scholarship funds in Nagaland.

Members of the All Nagaland College Students’ Union (ANCSU) have gone on a hunger strike outside Kohima Secretariat in Kohima. Three leaders, including ANCSU president Katho P Awomi, have been arrested by the police. Students are now demanding the release of the leaders.

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