College students begin statewide protests
Students from 42 colleges skip classes on day one of ANCSU-led peaceful agitation
Kohima, Aug. 10 (EMN) : Thousands of college students in Nagaland under the aegis of the All Nagaland College Students’ Union (ANCSU) staged rallies in their respective district headquarters on Friday, demanding immediate intervention from the state government to settle the issues of students’ scholarships and land disputes at various district colleges and polytechnic institutions.
“Until the state government addresses the genuine demands of the colleges (sic) students, the ANCSU as per the ultimatum of the colleges students will abstain from attending classes from this day dated 10th August 2018,” stated an ANCSU memorandum addressed to the chief minister which was submitted to respective district deputy commissioners today. It warned that the college students would be forced to adopt severe course of actions against the non-commitment of the state government in addressing the core issues.
There are currently 42 colleges across different districts of the state that are affiliated to the ANCSU.
“We will not settle for verbal assurances anymore,” stated Katho P Awomi, the president of the union, during the rally in Kohima which was attended by students from 15 colleges in the district.
According to him, there are several scholarship schemes sponsored by different ministries at the centre but yet unknown to the students. “These scholarship funds are being manipulated and are just vanishing,” he told mediapersons on the sidelines of the rally. He said when ANCSU sought information on the matter, it was brought to light that there were some scholarship schemes which were never brought to the notice of the public including the students.
Post-matric scholarship is the only one that is known and sought for by the students, he pointed out, adding that the state was having a problem in implementing the scheme for degree and higher secondary students as there was no particular date specified to disburse the amount to the students. “We are not even sure how much is sanctioned and how much each student should be getting,” he added.
He said the union had earlier suggested the state government to set up a scholarship cell consisting of officials from the different departments which have scholarship schemes, with the sole responsibility to implement the scholarship schemes by sensitising and informing the people abut the schemes and disbursing the scholarships on time.
If the government can sanction crores of rupees with the slogan that ‘change is coming’ for buying VIP vehicles, why can’t they build retaining a wall to demarcate and protect the land that belong to the colleges, the student leader questioned.
Remarking on the recent creation of the Investment and Development Authority, he said it may have its merits but felt that students’ scholarship issue was sidelined. He said the previous DAN government had accepted and acknowledged the ANCSU’s demand for a separate scholarship cell.
But the new government, according to the student organsiation, ‘came out with another complicated department which is really confusing.’
On land disputes in various government institutions, Awomi said ANCSU has been pursuing for infrastructure and other development matters in those institutions but on many occasions, land issues have posed problems.
He elaborated that the government would say it was not able to go ahead with further development activities because of problems from landowners. He was of the view that whatever the conditions, these issues should be settled for the welfare of the student community.
Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) representative, Kesosul Christopher Ltu, in his brief address at the rally, stated that the land encroachment issue at KSCJ has been a long pending issue. He expressed dismay over the complacency of the government which has led the students to come to the streets to protest.
With regard to the scholarships issue, Ltu said the NSF was in solidarity with the demand of the students. He however underscored the need for students to ‘rethink and retrospect’ as to whether they were genuinely eligible to avail the scholarship schemes.
The NSF leader also criticised the lack of infrastructure development in Nagaland University (NU), which he observed was worse than the infrastructures of private colleges and universities despite receiving more funding.
“The University is not able to accommodate even fifty students in a department per year. Where will our remaining students go? All of us are not wealthy enough to go and study outside. Universities should enhance the human resource centres as these are some of our basic rights,” Ltu said.
He cited the Tezpur University in Assam which was established in the same year as NU in 1994, but now has better infrastructure and faring better than most universities. “We are still in the same old buildings with roofs leaking where water comes inside the classroom during monsoon season,” he lamented. He also called upon the students to be responsible while asserting their rights.
The president of Angami Students’ Union (ASU) and officials of KSCJ students’ union and St. Joseph’s College Jakhama students’ council also delivered solidarity messages at the rally.
The ANCSU demands include: setting up of a separate nodal cell for scholarships as assured by the government and bring about a ‘permanent settlement’ on the scholarship issue. It stated in the memorandum that the creation of such cell would facilitate efficient implementation and timely disbursing of scholarships to beneficiaries within a stipulated time/month annually. As per the union, many students rely on their scholarship amount for academic needs; therefore, the same should be disbursed to beneficiaries by the month of August every year.
The ANCSU also sought the chief minister’s intervention to settle all land disputes and encroachment issues in the district colleges and polytechnic institutions. It stated that all such issues should immediately be recommended for proper land survey and land belonging to those colleges should be retained ‘at any cost’. It demanded for a proper wall demarcation for all the government colleges to protect and prevent any kind of encroachment in future.
In this connection, the union cited the land encroachment issue at Kohima Science College Jotsoma (KSCJ), pointing out that it was an age-old dispute which the ANCSU has been repeatedly raising with the government for settlement. However, it alleged that the state government has ‘miserably failed to understand and ignored the gravity of the matter’ for which, the issue remained unsettled. ANCSU demanded that the state government should immediately expedite the process on priority so that the college was not affected by the issue anymore.
Dimapur: The Dimapur unit of ANCSU held a peaceful dharna at DC court junction today. According to the assistant general secretary of ANCSU, Imnameren N Jamir: ‘we will continue the dharna if the government does not respond to our demands.’
He said the students participating in the rallly would not attend class until the government reposnds to the demand. Representatives from Dimapur Government College, SM College, Pranabananda Women’s College and SD Jain Girl’s College spoke in solidarity of the students’ demands. Eighteen colleges participated in the protest in Dimapur.
Peren: Students from three higher secondary schools and a government college, and few Nagaland university students, turned up at the protest. Consequently, the Peren Students Union and the Peren Government College Students Union submitted a memorandum to the additional deputy commissioner of Peren.
Phek: At Phek, the ANSCU’s dharna was held outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office. The president of Phek Town Chakhesang Students Union, vice presidents of both the Phek and Pfütsero Government Colleges gave solidity speech in support of ANCSU demands. Educational secretary of ANCSU, Kruto Tetseo, read out the charter of demands. The memorandum was submitted to deputy commissioner of Phek signed by both the vice presidents of Phek Governemt College Student Council and the Pfütsero Government College Student Council.
Mokokchung: More than one thousand students from four colleges in Mokokchung district particiapted in a protest against and encroachment in two government colleges. Students from Jubilee Memorial College, People’s College, Tuli College and Fazl Ali College took part in the protest.
“The student community will abstain from attending regular classes from tomorrow (Saturday) until the state government gives a positive answer,” accordIng to the vice president of ANCSU.
Wokha: More than 500 students from Mt. Tiyi College and Bailey Baptist College in Wokha assembled at thew local ground to participate in the state-wide rally. The speaker of ANCSU, Pithungo Shitio stated that the state government has turned a deaf ear to the genuine demands of the students.
Zunheboto: The Zunheboto Government College Students’ Union and Khelhoshe Polytechnic Kohima also held a peaceful dharna. “Along with the land encroachment issue of Kohima Science College, separate nodal cell and permanent settlement for scholarship and demarcation wall for district government colleges, it also asked the government to intervene and settle the Zunheboto and Khelhoshe polytechnic land encroachment issue,” informed a press release.
The protestors also demanded that the Khelhoshe Polytechnic Institure at Atoizu be upgraded to a degree course institution.