The commotion that unfolded in the state capital city Kohima after the All Nagaland College Students’ Union (ANCSU) spearheaded an indefinite hunger strike earlier this week, demanding the state government to act on several issues including the alleged misappropriation of State Technical Scholarship funds, has become a hot topic for debate among the people of the state. The otherwise peaceful demonstration took a different turn when the student protestors started marching towards the Directorate of Technical Education. It made the police and law enforcing agencies to use water cannons and teargas to disperse the protesters. A few student leaders were also briefly detained during the episode before they were released after a few hours. Interestingly, the course of the protest diverted to the social media with people criticising the state government and police. Dozens of civil society organisations condemned the act of the security forces, terming it as “brutal” and “high-handed.” Fortunately, the volatile situation was defused after the aggrieved student community leaders had a close-door meeting with Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and a few other ministers. The ANCSU decided to call off the indefinite hunger strike after the state government assured to fulfil its demands.
While the action of the security forces could have been avoided considering the fact that most of the protestors were young college-going students and possibly not even the members of the aggrieved party as the alleged misappropriation of scholarship funds was of the year 2014-16 during the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN)-III regime, the protest too could have been carried out differently. Students, the future pillars of the society, should learn to abide by the law of the land and seek approval from the district administration and police before holding the protest. However, their hasty move almost tainted their legitimate and genuine demands. Taking prior permission is not to curtail the freedom to protest but to ensure that nothing untoward happens. In short, it is just a measure to ensure everybody’s safety. So, the student body should have taken prior permission before holding the protest rally. And there is no need to humiliate the policeman present at the venue of the rally (on social media) for doing their job. The fact is that a mob can turn violent any time and the repercussions are usually disturbing. And who will be blamed if anything goes wrong during a rally? The government. This is why certain procedures have to be followed to ensure that nothing goes wrong. People can protest democratically but with the permission of the concerned authorities. It’s for everybody’s good.
Coming back to the issue at hand, the state government should now sincerely work towards solving the problem. In the meantime, the student community too should not take the law into their own hands or hold the government to ransom just to fulfil their demands but rather allow the investigating team to uncover the scam and punish the guilty. Now that the case has been reportedly taken up by the newly introduced Lokayukta based on the CAG report, it is best to wait for its findings though it may take some time. When the Lokayukta of Karnataka could pull down former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa from the top post besides sending him to jail for three weeks in 2011 for his alleged connection with the mining scam, it may be safe for the people of Nagaland to expect the anti-corruption ombudsman to nail those who misused the State Technical Scholarship funds.