NESO renews ILP demand, seeks CAA, AFSPA repeal

Members of various pressure groups participate in the sit-in outside Shillong Civil Hospital on Wednesday. (ST)

SHILLONG, Aug 17: Protests demanding the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) across the Northeast and the repeal of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) as well as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) returned to the state on Wednesday.
Several pressure groups came out under the banner of the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) and staged a sit-in near the Shillong Civil Hospital in support of the demands.
Stating that successive central governments meted out “political injustice” to the region, NESO chairman Samuel B Jyrwa said, “They don’t treat our problems as national problems but consider our resources as national resources. People should know the truth that the Government of India is giving us only political injustice.”
“What is there to feel safe in this vast country if the indigenous people face a threat to their identity and culture? We have seen the fate of the indigenous people in Tripura. The same is happening in various parts of Assam. What is there to guarantee that the indigenous people of Meghalaya or the Northeast will not face the same fate?” Jyrwa asked.
He said the protestors wanted to convey a message to the indigenous people of the state that they need to ponder and pressure the central government.
“If they (Centre) say it (CAA/AFSPA) is for the protection of the citizens and if they consider us as citizens of India, then they should also fight for our protection,” he said.
The NESO chairman slammed the Centre for its silence on the twin demands of the inclusion of Khasi and Garo languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution and the implementation of the ILP.
“If the Government of India does not give us protection, then we have to think of our own protection. How can we preserve and protect the identity of the microscopic population of indigenous people without the laws? We cannot wait forever to get the laws,” he said.
The state government often says it passed a resolution on the ILP and is pushing for the recognition of Khasi and Garo languages. But Jyrwa said the state government can do much better by aggressively pursuing the issues with the Centre.
He said the Centre should not wait for anyone to pressure it if it knows there is a problem. He insisted it should find a solution to the problem without waiting to face any aggressive agitation or pressure.
Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) president Lambokstar Marngar asked the Centre to respect the sentiments of the people by implementing ILP across the Northeast, recognising Khasi and Garo languages and addressing the problem of unemployment.
He stressed that the states in the region are given more medical colleges and central universities. “We believe and we hope the Centre will listen to the voices, aspirations and desires of the people of the Northeast,” he said.
On the issue of ILP, Marngar said, “The resolution was passed by the state government in 2019. Now, I feel it is just a delay tactic, a design of the state government to control the hue and cry of people across the state.”
“If they are really concerned, I think it is high time for them to move and follow the issue aggressively with the central government,” he added.
Pointing out that the youth are frustrated with the problem of unemployment, the KSU president claimed, “The state government is running without a policy. It is high time to look, examine and think properly and come out with a policy.”
Jaintia Students’ Union general secretary Treibor Raul Suchen alleged the Centre is doing only lip service and not taking any action for the development of the Northeast as a whole.
“We demand the repeal of AFSPA and CAA from the entire Northeast and the implementation of ILP across the region. We also demand a special economic zone for the Northeast in the interest of the youth of the region,” he added.
Pressure groups such as HNYF, FKJGP etc also supported the sit-in.