A file image of the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) president Ninoto Awomi (second from right) and his colleagues at the NSF office in Kohima Credit: File image

Kohima: Following a meeting held with Nagaland-based student leaders on Wednesday, the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) clarified that the 15-day ultimatum served to the government demanding for the Nagaland Staff Selection Board (NSSB) was to “ensure that every educated youth of Nagaland gets equal job opportunity in matters of public employment as per law” and that it does not apply to those outside the state.

The crucial meeting was necessitated after the Central Nagaland Students’ Association (CNSA) took a jibe at the NSF for serving the ultimatum to the state government on February 22, accusing it of using “other people and organisations who have no connection” with the state, thereby, “undermining the Nagas of Nagaland”. Several other organisations, including the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also slammed the ultimatum submitted by the NSF.

While the NSF’s ultimatum received mixed reactions from the people for including signatories of federating units outside Nagaland, the NSF through a press statement said that the main issue of concern was being diverted. Recalling the creation of the student body in 1947, it said that the apex student body was formed “to defend the rights and aspiration of Nagas, irrespective of the artificial boundaries” and “to defend the inalienable rights of the Nagas against inimical forces and to safeguard the interest of the Naga generations to come”.

As one of the oldest Naga organisations, it pointed that matters that are taken up by the Federation, “the Federation stands united at all times”, irrespective of the territories. “Since its inception, the Federation has stood firm in unison without compromise. Whether the sacrifices made and the issues taken up by the federation manned by many prominent selfless leaders of the Naga society till date are right or wrong, it is for the right thinking people to judge”, the statement read.

It said that the ultimatum was submitted to the state government since the legitimate demands of were not fulfilled in time. Saying that it has taken note of the resentment shared by various organisations against the 15-day ultimatum, the statement read: “However, it is also clarified once and for all that the signature appended by the federating units outside the present State of Nagaland does not mean that by appending signature they will benefit anything or get job opportunity under the exams conducted by the Staff Selection Board (SSB )of Nagaland.”

“The federation is clear on this. It only shows that the federation as a collective whole stands united and for which the decision of the ultimatum was endorsed unanimously by all the members present during the presidential council meeting of NSF held on 22nd February 2020,” it added.

The student body then said that the sole purpose for “demanding the setting up of SSB is to curb rampant backdoor appointments which deprived the hardworking youth from facing proper selection process” and to “encourage and promote the competitive mindset of our youth at all levels”. It said that unless that is controlled, “the corrupted system will only push our State backward”, as it is “sabotaging meritocracy in the state of Nagaland”.

While the SSB is to ensure equal job opportunity, it said that the reservation for backward quota including the reservation for persons with disabilities, and other reservations will not be affected.

It requested the Nagas “not to succumb to confusion and also to be aware of divisive forces that will break the federation apart”. Accepting the constructive criticisms, it noted that the target on focus should not be compromised in the confusion.

It concluded saying that as per the consultative meeting held on Wednesday with the federating units and sub-ordinate bodies at its headquarters at Oking Naga Club Building in Kohima, the House reiterated on the ultimatum vide reference No. NSF/Ult-02/19-21, which was served to the chief minister with its legitimate demands, must be considered at the earliest.

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