Developed By: iNFOTYKE
GUWAHATI: The North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) has through a memorandum to Union home minister, Rajnath Singh drawn the attention of the Centre towards several critical issues currently affecting the Northeast.
The issues proposed in the memorandum for consideration and corrective action included an education policy relevant to the people of the region, repeal of punitive legislation such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958, acceleration of the ongoing dialogue with different armed groups for an early settlement, curbing infiltration of illegal migrants and a comprehensive policy thereof, implementation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Northeast besides opposition to Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and long term visa.
NESO comprises the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), Naga Students’Federation (NSF), Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), Twipra Students’ Federation (TSF), All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU), Garo Students’ Union (GSU) and All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU), representing eight major students’ movements of the seven northeastern states.
The memorandum further highlighted issues such as economic and infrastructure development vis-a-vis the Act East Policy, employment policy for Northeast, India-Bangladesh land swap deal (2011), stapled visa, settlement of the inter-state boundary issue and special Constitutional status and separate time zone for Northeast.
The students’ group while acknowledging the positive steps taken by the central government said that the latter should not turn away from its responsibility on the issues raised.
NESO however warned that if the issues are not addressed in the right earnest, it would be bound to register its protest and initiate a nonviolent aggressive, peaceful agitation, in a manner it deemed fit, until an acceptable solution is found.
“The issues/matters require immediate corrective action since they are long pending matters impacting overall inclusive growth, holistic and sustainable development of the region – its peoples, land, natural resources, environment, biodiversity, economic empowerment, culture and tradition,” the memorandum said.
“As hill areas are not easily accessible to mode of transport and villages are far flung in distance from village to another, the known norms for setting up of a school and the existing ratio of number of pupils/students per teacher need to be relaxed. Existing universities, colleges have to be revitalised while more advanced research centres, technical and medical colleges should be established.
NESO demanded that recruitment and admissions in established central universities and institutions should be safeguarded so that the people of the region and in states where they are set up are not marginalised and discriminated upon for studies and employment.
“Liberal and proper funding and grants should be given to universities in the Northeast so that they can excel and compete globally. To promote the different languages of the region, the Centre should include Khasi, Garo language of Meghalaya, Kok Borok of Tripura in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution,” it stated.
In regard to the legislations, it said, “Time and again, voices have been raised, representations have been made and peoples’ movement have been continuing against enforcing such laws in the region with previous governments but most unfortunately, they had fallen on deaf ears.”
The students group therefore appealed to the Union home minister to take cognizance and rectify the anomalies and repeal legislations such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958, The Assam Disturbed Areas Act, 1955, The Assam Maintenance of Public Order (Autonomous District) Act, 1953, The National Security Act, 1980 and The Punjab State Security Act, 1953.
“The Northeast region should be demilitarized within a time bound schedule and the armed forces should be confined to the five- kilometer border area and not be allowed to enter into the civilian areas,” it said.
The memorandum further said that the present problem facing the Northeast is multi-dimensional but a great part of the crisis relates with the unabated influx of illegal migrants from her immediate neighbours which has brought a serious demographic change in the region in particular and other parts of the country in general.
NESO also called for settling the inter-state boundary issue immediately by setting up an Inter State Boundary Commission. “Almost all the states in the region have boundary disputes. Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh have boundary issues with Assam while Manipur has a boundary dispute with Nagaland. This is due to the fact that decisions were taken unilaterally and the people living along the border were not taken into confidence” it said.