Aizawl (zoramobserver.com): Mizoram’s apex and most influential student body, the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) on Saturday demanded the state government to compensate students who have been injured in a clash with police during an anti-Chakma quota protest in Aizawl on last Thursday.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference here, MZP president Lalsangzuala Ngente strongly demanded state government to give compensation to the injured students as medical expenses. “We strongly demands that all the medical expenses of the injured students be met within this July,” he said.
Over 22 students including girls were injured in police lathi-charge during an agitation against the inclusion of four Chakma students in Mizoram’s MBBS quota through National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), according to MZP general secretary L. Ramdinliana Renthlei, who accompanied Ngente at the pressed conference on Saturday.
He said that one girl identified as Enet Lalremruati, a student of Aizawl North College had her arm fractured as she is being lathicharged by police.
Slamming the police for unleashing force against the protesting student to quell the agitation, Ngente alleged that some of the protesting students were hit on their heads and others were beaten mercilessly even after they fell to the ground.
He alleged that four Chakma students were given protection and more police deployment was sent to the protest site on being requested by MoS Dr. BD Chakma.
He held Dr. BD Chakma responsible for the suffering of the protesting students and demanded the state government to identify police personnel involved in unleashing brutality against agitators and give them stringent punishment.
According to Ngente as per Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules, 1999, applicants for State Medical & Technical Entrance Examination (SMATEE) are classified into three categories for the purpose of seat allotment and the placing of Chakma, who are non-indigenous, under category-I as indigenous people of Mizoram was not technically safe for the son of soil or ‘Zofate.
He asked the state government to pay sincere concern to the issue of selection criteria or state’s quota as it has the discretionary power to either include or drop Chakma from category-I.
Ngente also alleged that the main motive of Chakmas was apparently to include themselves under category-I rather than studying technical course under Mizoram’s quota.
He said that it was not like that they did not allow the Chakmas to study medical and technical course, but their main point of protest is that they did not want them to be included under category-I of the state’s quota as indigenous people of Mizoram.
Replying to media, Ngente said that they will continue to closely monitor the issue of MBBS quota for Chakmas. He however, ruled out the demand for resignation of Higher & Technical Education Minister R. Romawia and Dr. BD Chakma as the government had already cancelled the counselling for candidates.
Ngente also thanked students, various Zo ethnic student bodies and people of Mizoram for their moral support and showing their readiness to fight for the cause of Zo descendants.
The question of indigeneity for Chakmas has been a contentious issue since 2014 when 38 Chakma students were selected in SMATEE under category-I. The MZP strongly protested this and the Mizoram government was forced to amend its selection rules by notifying Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) (Sixth Amendment) Rules, 2015 which reserved category-I exclusively for Zo ethnic people of Mizoram thereby excluding the Chakmas from it.
The Mizoram government was forced to withdraw the sixth amendment rules after Mizoram Chakma Students’ Union (MCSU) challenged it in the Gauhati High Court through PIL. But the Mizoram government, notwithstanding the court order, notified the same rules again in 2016 by reserving 95% seats for Zo ethnic people (Category-I), while the schedule tribe like Chakmas and Brus were placed under category-II (non-indigenous). The 2016 rules too were challenged and stayed by Gauhati High Court on 24 June, 2016 in PIL. Then, the Mizoram government had to by the old rules that placed ‘indigenous people of Mizoram’ under category-I.