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Students protest against corruption

- Official’s son allegedly given precedence over eligible candidate

Kohima, Aug. 19: Several Naga students supported by NGOs today staged a sit-in here to protest against rampant corruption in the state.

Today’s protest in front of the secretariat was triggered after senior state government officials removed the name of Watinaro Imsong from Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Himachal Pradesh.

The directorate of higher and technical education had nominated Imsong for BSc horticulture course (four years) under Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry based on merit against the sole seat allotted to Nagaland.

The seat, however, was given to a non-eligible candidate, Imnatemsu Ao, on the recommendation of the director of horticulture, Watila Ao. Imnatemsu is Watila’s son.

The directorate of horticulture denied any manipulation.

The NGO, Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation (ACAUT), said Imsong, who stood first in the state quota eligible test for BSc (horticulture) course in the university, was denied admission and Imnatemsu was inducted.

The seat in the university is reserved for nominees of the North Eastern Council (NEC).

ACAUT said Imsong’s family also approached chief secretary Banu Z. Jamir with evidences of wrongdoing. However, instead of writing to the NEC to cancel the nomination of Imnatemsu and select Imsong, Jamir simply asked for one more BSc (horticulture) seat in the university to accommodate Imsong.

Former Nagaland Assembly Speaker Z. Lohe urged students to keep fighting against corruption in the state. He said what the state government has done to Imsong was unacceptable and that no stone should remain unturned to fight for justice.

Member of ACAUT Khek-iye Sema echoed Lohe.

The president of Naga Students’ Federation (NSF), Tongpang Ozukum, said the students would support Imsong till the end. “We will not shy away from the responsibility,” he said.

The president of Youth Association of Nagaland, Hetoi Chishi, demanded a public apology from both chief secretary and director of horticulture. The protesters also demanded disciplinary action against the errant officers.

Representatives of Naga Mothers’ Association also attended today’s protest and submitted a memorandum to chief minister T.R. Zeliang.