Guwahati, March 27: The North East Students' Organisation today demanded special constitutional status for the region to thwart the threats of increasing Chinese aggression and unabated influx from Bangladesh.
NESO, the umbrella body of all student groups in the region, will soon send delegates to New Delhi to highlight the problems and hold a meeting of the Northeast MPs Forum to draw the Centre's attention.
NESO chairman Sammujjal Bhattacharyya told reporters here that there was an urgent need to safeguard the interests and rights of the indigenous people of the Northeast in view of the emergence of various kinds of aggression from neighbouring countries.
He said the special constitutional status must recognise the exclusive rights of the indigenous people of the region over their land and natural resources but did not specify the exact nature of the constitutional rights, saying those would have to be framed by experts.
"The Centre has failed to take effective steps to counter China's territorial claim over Arunachal Pradesh and the unabated influx of foreign nationals and fundamentalist forces from Bangladesh which has threatened the very existence and identity of the people of the region," Bhattacharyya said.
He said NESO had discussed these threats in its executive council meeting held here yesterday and mooted the special constitutional status, the modalities for which must be chalked out by the Centre.
Leaders and members of the organisation, who attended the meeting, also demanded a special commission to bring about a sea change in the education scenario in the region.
Bhattacharyya said a large number of brilliant students were leaving the region to pursue higher studies.
"As per the reports of an unofficial survey, students of the Northeast are spending nearly Rs 400 crore to pursue courses in leading institutions and universities in India and abroad. This huge amount could be spent in the region if the Centre sets up top-of-the-line universities and institutes here. The Centre must set up a special education commission to create a talented pool of manpower for development of the region," he added.
NESO secretary general Gumjum Haider said the meeting also resolved to take steps to build a consensus on a separate time zone for the region, which could improve its economy, education and work culture.
"NESO will organise seminars and workshops across the Northeast from April to create awareness on the benefits of having a separate time zone."
Bhattacharyya said NESO has also demanded the repeal of all draconian laws applicable to the region. "The NESO has rejected the Centre's proposal to amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. Amendment is not a solution to black and draconian laws like the AFSPA. Repeal is the only solution," he said.( The Telegraph)