Kohima: Over a thousand students from St Joseph’s College Jakhama gathered outside Raj Bhavan in Nagaland capital Kohima to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) on Wednesday.
Spearheaded by the Students’ Council, the apex students’ body of the college, protesters gathered outside Kohima Law College and marched towards Raj Bhavan. However, the protest was shortly called off by the district administration as the students’ body failed to obtain a police permit and a No Objection Certificate (NoC) from the concerned authorities.
Speaking to reporters after the protest was peacefully called off, Students’ Council president Chumtiba S Sangtam said, “We organised this peaceful rally because we are strongly against the CAA. It is injustice. It is against the constitution and it is religious injustice.”
He added that the Act only protects the people from outside and suggested that it must first protect the nation.
“If the government does not follow the Constitution, we must not follow the government. If the government is not for the people, the people should not support the government,” he said. He added that the Inner Line Permit (ILP) is not strong enough to protect the state from CAA.
Saying that the state cannot be a dumping ground for illegal immigrants, Ghuvika Yeptho, a six-semester student, said, “Slowly, our identity and our culture will be at stake and one day we might lose everything.”
Adding that he felt the need to protect his future and the coming generation, he said, “I know that I am standing for the right cause.”
Meanwhile, most colleges and universities across the state remained closed as per the directive of the All Nagaland College Students’ Union (ANCSU). Addressing a section of the media, ANCSU president Vimeyiekho Vitso said that the response on the total shutdown of colleges across the state has received “overwhelming and positive response”.
Reacting to Union home minister Amit Shah’s statement that despite protest, the Act will not not be scrapped, Vitso said, “We are left clueless because when our leaders are not listening to the voice of the people, then we have no one to refer to. But despite such statement, we will still fight against the Act which is unconstitutional.”
Vitso also said that despite the claims made by the political leaders that Nagaland is exempted from the purview of CAA, “the ANCSU is clear that the CAA is going to hamper the future of the Nagas”.
Citing the abrogation of Art 370, he said that Art 371(A) is not safe under “such government”. “Although we are under the ambit of ILP, it does not ensure total safety for the citizens of the state,” he said highlighting the lack of proper ILP implementation in the state.
In regard to the minister of state for higher and technical education, Temjen Imna Along’s support of the Act, Vitso said: “He said that CAA is not going to affect the state and has also voiced in support of the Act. It is very unfortunate as students of the state, to have a minister of the state not representing the aspirations of the youth and the students.” He added that the minister might have been compelled to follow the “directives of their heads from the Centre”.
Later, in a press statement, ANCSU general secretary Imnameren N Jamir acknowledged all colleges and the Nagaland Theological Colleges’ Association for positively responding to the total shutdown called by the students’ body.
The statement said that ANCSU will “strongly support the movement against the contentious CAA, even in the days to come”.