Democracy on the streets

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 6/6/2019 11:26:24 AM IST

It was in the end a win-win situation for both the All Nagaland College Students’ Union (ANCSU) and the state government, in particular the Department of Higher & Technical Education over the issue of scholarship scam. The issue involves the scholarship money meant for students which was illegally given as ‘loan’ allegedly by some department officials and staff. The issue could have been prolonged and inviting further problems. However, after the meeting convened by the state chief minister Neiphiu Rio, which was attended by the minister of H&TE Temjen Imna Along and representatives of the ANCSU, the government has accepted in toto all the five-point charter of demands of the Union. The demands are justified since they pertain to the welfare of the student community which have been under discussions. What precipitated the issue was on Tuesday in Kohima after the authorities forcibly evicted the protesting students from the secretariat. The state chief secretary’s office had maintained that the hunger strike sit-in was held without prior permission of the authorities besides not adhering to other requirements. In retaliation, the ANCSU Dimapur unit declared a lightning bandh in Dimapur on Wednesday. Whether it was due to the bandh or not, which led the state government to undertake a fire fighting exercise is a matter of discussion but it is now only academic. In Dimapur, the business community under the Dimapur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and the Dimapur Naga Students Union (DNSU) including the Naga Council Dimapur (NCD) were averse to the bandh even though they expressed support to the issue raised by the ANCSU. The bandh culture in Nagaland appears to still be lingering while it seems to be receding in states where the culture has been instrumental for total disruption of the socio-economic lives of the people. Bandh is sought to be explained or justified as a form of democratic expression of right but in practise, it is nothing short of suppression of rights. The tool of ‘democratic expression’ has practically become a tool of suppression of the majority. It only evokes adverse reaction from the people as two wrongs do not make one right. Bandh culture in India is prevalent in states where a minuscule minority have abused this freedom to deprive the freedom of the majority under the guise of democratic form of protest. The issue raised by ANCSU reflects a sorry state of affairs in the state where the government takes note only after it compelled. This is not how a constitutionally installed government should perform. Nobody can deny that the students had no option but to resort to the bandh to compel the government to respond. The danger is that if, for example, a government decides not to blink and so also the other side; then the consequences can only be nothing less than explosive. Democracy cannot be dictated on the streets, where both take the high moral ground but end up grounding democracy. No government should allow matters to escalate since it is constitutionally and morally bound to take correct steps. On the other hand, those who have genuine grievances should hold rallies and go to the court instead of holding society to ransom. Since the state government has given clear assurances to do what it should have done long back, it is hoped that it will learn a lesson that it is duty-bound to act in a transparent and accountable manner.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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