GUWAHATI, April 22 � The North East Students� Organisation (NESO) has reiterated its opposition to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, and reinforced its support to the anti-AFSPA campaign by Irom Sharmila of Manipur, who has been on a fast for more than ten years.
Members of NESO�s constituent groups in all the seven States will have a sit-in strike on April 25. From 4 pm to 6 pm, the student leaders will carry out the protest action by covering their mouths with black clothes in Guwahati.
A candle light vigil will also take place as a mark of solidarity with Sharmila�s stance against the AFSPA.
NESO leaders believe that the silent protest is needed to put Sharmila�s campaign in sharp focus as none in the Union Government has even considered her campaign with the seriousness it deserves. Political leaders, bureaucrats, and the national media have all failed to support her cause.
In Arunachal Preadesh, the protest would be carried out by All Arunachal Pradesh Students� Union, in Assam by All Assam Students� Union, in Manipur by All Manipur Students� Union. Khasi Students� Union and Garo Students� Union will execute the action in Meghalaya, while in Mizoram it will be organised by Mizo Zirlai Paul, and in Nagaland by Naga Students� Federation. The Twipra Students� Federation will lead the protest in Tripura.
Chairman of NESO, Dr Samujjal Bhattacharjya, addressing a press meet in Guwahati, said it is an event to express solidarity with Sharmila and others who have been calling for scrapping the �draconian law� that is in force only in the North East and in Jammu and Kashmir.
�We demand a total repeal of the law, no amendment will be accepted,� he said, adding that it was an insult to the people of the region that such a law has been thrust on them. �For long, we, the people of North East, have been treated as second class citizens, the existence of the highly unpopular AFSPA clearly demonstrates that,� he remarked.
Dr Bhattacharjya found it strange that while an all-party team of parliamentarians have visited the Jammu and Kashmir to have a rethink on the AFSPA, there have been no such efforts concerning the North East. Lambasting the Union Government, the national media and intellectuals, he mentioned that for most of them India ceased to exist beyond Kolkata. They and local political leaders too have failed to focus on a law that has invited censure and condemnation.
Speaking on the occasion, Gumjum Haider, NESO secretary general said the initiative to strengthen support to Irom Sharmila is needed as political leaders from the North East have failed to repeal the AFSPA. Calling for scrapping the law, he said students organisations of the North East are united in protesting atrocities and unjust laws which are demeaning.
He urged the public to join in the protest action, and invited the media to support the initiative.