While there has been disapproval from different quarters over the indefinite economic blockade called by the United Naga Council along the highways of the State, there are also quarters that have deemed the UNC’s action as fit to be exercised during war time against a warring enemy. The State government has declared indefinite holiday for all educational institutes following the general strike called by the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit system on September 10. As reported, the strike was effective, bringing life almost to a standstill. The evening of the strike saw women meira paibis staging protest demonstrations in different pockets of the valley. Having witnessed added energy in the current movement of ILP demand, the State anticipates the movement gaining more momentum, with more demonstrations in the streets, and particularly students participating in large number. Therefore, the authorities preemptively closed down all educational institutes indefinitely. This is not the first time that the authorities have closed down schools and colleges anticipating protest demonstration by students. There have been a few instances earlier. But to declare holiday indefinitely ‘until further notice’ is as bizarre as the indefinite blockade. True, that students have been at the forefront of the ILP movement, and without their participation the movement would not have gained so much power. IFP has been critical about fervid participation of young students who are not in the position to grasp the issue or the demand. It appears that those young students participated more out of compulsion, bereft of conscience and consent. What is even more disturbing is the cozy silence and abstention of those students who are in higher echelons of learning.
Are the authorities going to close down the institutes whenever there is a movement or an agitation? Indications are that the current movement is not going to settle down soon. Will the schools and colleges remain closed until the movement comes to an end? Here, it is worthwhile to recall the 2009 Khwairamband alleged fake encounter killing of Chungkham Sanjit and Thokchom Rabina, following which educational institutes were closed down for four months as part of the protest by civil societies, demanding resignation of the Chief Minister and punishment of the culprits. A legal battle is still underway regarding the incident, but the CM did never resigned. The CM had at that time asserted that right to education is more important than right to life. Those four months impasse between the agitators and the government was a heavy loss to the student community. It not only affected their studies, but also bound to have had a detrimental impact on their psycho-social growth. A practical way forward for the authorities would be to re-educate the law enforcers, more particularly in crowd control. This would be a better option instead of getting weak-kneed in advance. On the other hand, those in the movement should not lost focus of the larger issue. While raising demands, there should be room for reconciliation as well. We feel that the committee of all political parties headed by the deputy CM has a significant role to play. The committee should seriously try to reach out to the JCILP leaders, and open out ways and means to put the issue of ILP and other demands to a higher level of engagement. News has arrived that the indefinite economic blockade has been lifted. The news of the reopening of the institutes should also not tarry.
Leader Writer: Senate Kh