Justice demanded for Dana, Richard, Okram

Sit-in protest, signature campaign held in city

By Our Reporter

 SHILLONG: Hundreds of people including students participated in a sit-in protest and a signature campaign on Sunday demanding justice for Richard Loitam, Dana Silva M Sangma and Laaba Okram, all students from North East India, who had died under mysterious circumstances in different parts of the country.

The events organised by the Shillong Manipuri Student’s Union (SMSU) at Don Bosco Square, Laitumkhrah, also saw participation of leaders of various organisations of the region including the Naga Students’ Union, Mizo Students’ Union and All Boro Students ‘ Union.

Over 1,000 people put in their signatures with their names during the signature campaign which would be enclosed with the memorandums to be submitted to the Centre and the State Governments, demanding safeguard of the interests of students from the North East and justice for the victims.

Pamphlets were also distributed at the venue which demanded justice for the three students.

“An unofficial racial profiling of students from the Northeast seems to be going on in many parts of the country. Therefore it is important for both the State and the Central governments to note that such racially biased attitudes towards the people of Northeast by the people of mainland India can only continue at the cost of grave consequences,” the pamphlets read.

SMSU president Robert Thokchom said they have organised this sit-in protest to express their solidarity and to the fight for justice for Richard, Dana and Okram.

“I strongly feel that equal status should be accorded to all on the basis of humanity,” Thokchom said.

“We demand a strong legislation to stop racial profiling and discrimination against students from the region. We also want a strong mechanism for the safety and security of the Northeast students in other cities of the country,” he added.

He also called for strengthening the Northeast cells in colleges and other institutions in terms of manpower so  that ample support could be provided to students in distress.

Richard, 19, of Manipur, was found dead under mysterious circumstances on April 18 in his hostel room at Acharya NRV School of Architecture in Madanayakanahalli, 30km from Bangalore. Two seniors had assaulted him the previous night in the hostel common room over an alleged dispute over watching TV. He was found dead in his room the next day with assault marks on his face and head.

Dana, 21, an MBA student from Meghalaya and niece of Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma, was found hanging in her hostel room in Amity University on April 24 after she was accused of cheating during her second semester examination by an invigilator of the University.

Okram, a student of Hindustan College of Arts and Science, Chennai, was found dead in his hostel room last year under mysterious circumstances.

It may be mentioned that following the death of his niece, Dr Sangma had called for a legislation to protect students from the Northeast from ‘insensitive behaviour’.

He had also written to his Karnataka and Haryana counterparts seeking CBI probes into the deaths of Richard and Dana.