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Northeast students turn back on Modi

Modi interacts with a group of students from the Northeast in New Delhi on Wednesday. These students were not part of the group protesting at Jantar Mantar. (PTI)

New Delhi, Feb. 5: Northeast students protesting against Arunachal boy Nido Tania’s death today called off a scheduled meeting with Narendra Modi, accusing the Gujarat chief minister of trying to “divide” them.

“Why is he calling 50-60 of us to meet him at Gujarat Bhavan when all of us are sitting at Jantar Mantar? Is he trying to divide us?” Arunachal Students’ Union Delhi (ASUD) general secretary Taba Doni said. “We are not going to meet him.”

A senior BJP leader, however, claimed the party’s mascot for the upcoming national elections had been delayed in Calcutta, where Modi addressed a rally this afternoon.

The BJP’s prime ministerial nominee, who reached Delhi this evening, did meet a group of students from the Northeast but the delegation to Gujarat Bhavan didn’t include anyone from among the protesters at Jantar Mantar.

A BJP leader said Modi asked them about their problems and informed the group of his planned trip to the Northeast. Modi is scheduled to visit Guwahati later this week.

Earlier in the day, however, the Jantar Mantar protesters scrapped their appointment with Modi after agreeing at a late-night meeting yesterday that they would call on the Gujarat leader.

It was Modi’s turn to be in the line of fire after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal ran into questions yesterday soon after the Aam Aadmi Party leader had reached Jantar Mantar, four days after the sit-in began.

Kejriwal, who met the students a day after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi joined them at Jantar Mantar, had apologised but managed to connect with the combative protesters as he lashed out at a common adversary: Delhi police.

Some protesters, though, smelt politics soon after Kejriwal left. One student leader from Arunachal Pradesh said: “We don’t want any politicians here. They make political capital out of it.”

The same sentiment appeared to be part of the reason behind the decision to call off this evening’s meeting with Modi.

Earlier on Sunday, the Gujarat leader had brought up Nido’s death in his public speech at Meerut. “We say ‘Ram-Ram’ in greeting, they say ‘Jai Hind’,” he had told the gathering in Uttar Pradesh while referring to the people of Arunachal.

Modi had yesterday called up ASUD president Yeshi Wangchu and said he would take up issues concerning Arunachal students.

But those sitting in protest appeared to have been miffed with Modi for insisting that they meet him at Gujarat Bhavan instead of him going over to Jantar Mantar, about 7km from Chanakyapuri where the state’s official building is located.

A three-member delegation, including ASUD general secretary Doni, however, met Lok Sabha leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj in Parliament.

Doni said they demanded justice for Nido, punishment for the culprits and action against the policemen who delayed filing an FIR.

“She told us the BJP would include their concerns in its election manifesto,” Doni said.

Asked why they seemed happy after meeting Sushma but felt Modi was “dividing” them, Doni said “there was confusion” on why the BJP mascot had asked them to come over to Gujarat Bhavan.

No such doubts marked Delhi High Court’s rap on the police. The high court today pulled up the force for not submitting Nido’s post-mortem report.