The North East Students' Organisation (NESO), the umbrella organisation of student bodies in the northeast, on Saturday demanded special constitutional status for the region with right over land and natural resources to undo what it described as “years of political injustice and economic exploitation.”

After a two-day meeting of its executive council and general council, the NESO also demanded a separate time zone for the northeast, a Special Education Commission for the region, and the declaration of the northeast as a separate employment zone and special economic zone.

NESO chairman Samujjal Kumar Bhattcharya and secretary-general Gumjum Haider told journalists here that the student body would take out a protest march on the streets of Delhi during the Parliament session, submit memoranda to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other central leaders, and organise a meeting of northeast MPs to press for these demands.

‘Illegal foreigners'

The NESO also demanded that all illegal foreigners be detected, their names be deleted from voters' lists, and they be evicted from the northeast.

The unabated influx of illegal foreigners posed a grave threat to the identity of indigenous people, the NESO leaders alleged, demanding that the Centre adopt a comprehensive policy to solve the problem.

More colleges

Claiming that Rs.400 crore outflows every year from the northeast due to migration of students from the region to different parts of the country for higher studies, the NESO demanded that the Centre declare a Special Education Commission so that new courses could be introduced and more engineering colleges and institutes of vocational courses be opened in the northeastern States to benefit those students who could not afford going outside their respective States.

The NESO also demanded immediate repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and rejected any proposal to amend the “draconian law.”

Expressing concern over the harassment of students from the northeast in Delhi and in the National Capital Region, the leaders said that Dr. Singh had assured the student body of protecting northeast students and others from any kind of harassment.

The NESO would keep a close watch on the implementation of this assurance, they added.