Five-day-old 'economic blockade' in Manipur called off
Imphal, August 9, 2022
The five-day-old "economic blockade", called by the All-Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM), along the National Highway-2 (Imphal-Dimapur), was withdrawn on Tuesday and movement of goods-laden stranded vehicles began, officials said.
With the lifting of the blockade, the Manipur government also restored the mobile data (internet) services.
According to state government officials, the ATSUM, which called the "economic blockade" on Friday, demanding the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council (Amendment) Bill, 2021 be moved in the Assembly to provide more administrative powers and autonomy to the tribal bodies, have called off their stir.
Due to the blockade, over 700 goods-laden vehicles were stranded till Tuesday morning along the National Highway-2, which connects Manipur with the rest of the country by road, via Nagaland.
"Security forces escorted 510 goods-laden vehicles to move to their destinations till Monday afternoon," a police official said.
The Manipur government, after holding marathon meetings on Sunday and Monday, had signed an agreement with the agitating ATSUM leaders on Monday.
Soon after the signing of the deal, the government released all five arrested ATSUM leaders, who were arrested on August 2 and sent to 15-day judicial custody by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal West.
According to the agreement, signed by Manipur government represented by Tribal Affairs Minister Letpao Haokip, and Hill Areas Committee (HAC) Chairman Dinganglung Gangmmei and three student leaders, the 7th Amendment Bill of Manipur Hill Areas District Councils for devolution of power of Autonomous District Councils has been referred to the HAC and the HAC will have consultation with all the stakeholders before recommending it to the Manipur Assembly.
Special Secretary, Home, H. Gyan Prakash, quoting the Manipur Director General of Police, in a notification on Tuesday said that in view of the positive development, the suspension of internet and mobile data services in Manipur may be relaxed from today (Tuesday).
".....temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, do hereby orders the restoration of mobile data services in Manipur with immediate effect. All Mobile Service providers are hereby directed to ensure compliance of this order," the notification said.
The BJP government headed by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh introduced the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council 6th and 7th amendment bills in the Assembly on Tuesday. However, the ATSUM claimed that these bills are not in line with their demands.
The ATSUM has been agitating in the hill districts including Kangpokpi and Senapati for quite some time, demanding more power to the tribal autonomous district councils.
In August last year, the Hill Area Committee (HAC), comprising MLAs of all the 20 tribal reserved seats of Manipur, had recommended the new Autonomous District Council (ADC) Bill to ensure "equitable development" in the hill districts in the same parameters as in the valley region of the state.