Monday, Feb 15, 2021 08:00 [IST]
Last Update: Monday, Feb 15, 2021 02:23 [IST]
‘Withdraw ‘anti-national and terrorists’ statement and apologize to students’
GANGTOK,: Former Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has demanded the ruling SKM party to withdraw its “anti-national and terrorists” statement directed against certain students of Geyzing Government College following the row over campus project progress.
Around 18 male students of Geyzing college had been detained by police on February 5 following a complaint of ‘trespassing and wrongful restraint’ by the Education additional chief secretary. They had been demanding a meeting with the Education minister citing delay in completing the college infrastructure at Geyzing.
Two students were booked under various sections of IPC while SKM spokesperson Jacob Khaling levelled serious allegations against them and demanded Central agencies to investigate.
In his weekly question and answer series, Chamling was asked for his thoughts on the two Geyzing college students being called as “terrorists and anti-national”, as per a SDF release on Sunday.
Chamling responded that calling students as “anti-national and terrorists” is unprecedented in the history of Sikkim, unheard of and highly condemnable.
“The government choosing to arrest students who sought an appointment with a minister demanding development in their college and then calling them “anti-national” plainly indicates that this government knows nothing about the fundamental rights of citizens in a democratic country, let alone the dreams and aspirations of students,” said the SDF president.
“I have not been able to digest the fact that such an utterly reprehensible statement was made against students by the spokesperson of Sikkim’s ruling party. And what shocks me furthermore is that the government doesn’t feel the need to withdraw the statement, let alone apologise to the students. I, as a concerned citizen of this land, and a responsible politician, vehemently abhor and condemn this statement and demand the instant withdrawal of the statement and unconditional apology to the students,” said Chamling.
Chamling added that he and the SDF stands with the students for their rights, dignity and demand. I appeal to the people of Sikkim to stand in solidarity with them for their rights and dignity as well, he said. He maintained that there is increasing insecurity among students under the SKM government.
“The raising of black flags against the government by the students of Sikkim State University last year and the shameless favouritism shown in the admission of students in the Soreng B.Ed college recently for which students had to raise the issue publically are glaring examples of how students are being treated by this government. One of the prime duties of any government is to protect and nurture them. Ignoring their cries and compelling them to stage a dharna even for a simple appointment with a minister and then calling them anti-national has brought disrepute to Sikkim, the stain of which will remain forever,” said the former Chief Minister.
Another question posed to Chamling was that SDF does not have any moral ground to condemn the Geyzing college issue as some students had been manhandled by police during the SDF government.
“Comparing this incident with the 2014 student rally during the SDF governance I do not believe is not fair. I do admit that the 2014 incident was extremely unfortunate. The students’ demand for an exam fee hike roll back should have been immediately and amicably dealt with. It was an internal matter of the college. The students first went to the college authorities and they were apparently asked to approach the HRDD. The students felt dissatisfied with the way their demand was dealt with and they decided to organize a peaceful protest,” said the SDF president.
“Soon, some supporters of the SKM party hijacked the protest. The vehicles of the Chief Judge and police officers were pelted with stones. The highway was blocked. There was a serious law and order situation and police had to intervene to bring the chaos under control. I was not in the State at the time. As soon as the matter was brought to my notice, I intervened and I declared that education would be free right up to the college level,” said Chamling.
“Let me reiterate that the students facing such a situation was unfortunate. But do not compare it with the incident of raiding the place where students were peacefully resting in the night, snatching their phones, taking them into custody, imposing various IPCs on them, calling them anti-national and terrorists and then intimidating them with investigations by Central agencies. Do not understate the severity of the SKM government’s disrespect, hatred and injustice against students. Do not distract public attention from such a serious matter of the injustice and bullying our hapless students are facing under this aggressive government,” said Chamling.