Aizawl (zoramobserver.com): The Mizo Zirlai Pawl has called off its proposed statewide bandh today.
The decision came after the student activists clashed with police in Aizawl when they tried to stop the ongoing medical course counselling involving Chakma students and the subsequent talks with the government.
The MZP is against the inclusion of Chakma students under Category-I which they said should be only for the Mizo/Zo ethnic tribes of Mizoram.
“The government has agreed to cancel the counselling for medical courses like MBBS and BDS and we have decided not to go for a bandh,” the MZP said after a late night executive emergency meeting in the state capital. The counselling/allocation of seats for 11 Mizo students which have already been completed will not be cancelled.
The MZP also thanked the various ethnic Zo student bodies for showing the “readiness to defend” their interests. Stating that it will continue to monitor closely the issue of MBBS quota for Chakmas, the MZP also asked its constituent members to be alert and ready for more protests if needed.
CLASH WITH POLICE
Earlier, in the day several students were injured when they clashed with the police in Aizawl. The Mizo Zirlai Pawl had also called for an indefinite statewide strike from Friday while demanding the resignation of Higher and Technical Education Minister R. Romawia and Minister of State Dr. BD Chakma.
The government had selected 75 candidates including 6 Chakma students and one non-tribal (read as vai) for pursuing MBBS and BDS under Mizoram’s quota based on their ranking in NEET. However, the lone non-tribal candidate was dropped from the list.
Irritated by the government action of including Chakma students in Mizoram’s MBBS quota under category-I and escorting them to a counselling venue, thousands of Mizo students picketed Higher & Technical Wing office at Chaltlang in Aizawl, where the counselling for the newly selected students was held. Four out of six Chakma students appeared for counselling as two other students were unlikely to get seat. Mizoram has 38 seats for MBBS and 11 seats for BDS. Only four Chakma students based on their ranking were eligible to get MBBS seat.
MZP sources said that the four Chakma students, who stayed overnight at Congress Minister Dr. BD Chakma’s residence were escorted by police to the counselling venue around 8:30 am yesterday.
Thousands of students drawn from various colleges in Aizawl assembled and tried to break police lines which resulted in a prolonged clash throughout the day. The agitation turned ugly when police resorted to lathicharge and used tear gas to disperse the agitators. Many students including some police personnel were injured in a clash, while two students were taken to hospital. “There were some female protesters among the injured,” sources said.
The situation later calmed down when the leaders of MZP including its president Lalsangzuala Ngente were invited for parleys. During the talks with officials, the student leaders requested the officials to drop the 4 Chakma students from the selection list and nullify their counselling. The officials said the MZP’s demand was beyond their capacity or authority.
Meanwhile, the student leaders convened an emergency meeting at the protest site and came out with three resolutions which states that an indefinite statewide total bandh should be called from Friday (21 July) to intensify the agitation against the government decision.
The resolution also demanded removal of four Chakma students from counselling of candidates under NEET or selection list. It further demanded that both Higher and Technical Education Minister R. Romawia and Minister of State Dr. BD Chakma should step down from their post unless the government deleted four Chakma students from counselling.
The student body also slammed the police for their “merciless action” and resorting to lathicharge and using tear gas to disperse the agitators. It alleged that many protesting students were beaten mercilessly even after they fell to the ground.