Manipur highway blockade: Hundreds of vehicles stranded, internet suspended
Imphal: Hundreds of vehicles were stranded along the National Highway-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) on Sunday amid the tense situation as the blockade, called by the All Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM), hit normal activities in the hill districts of Manipur, officials said.
According to police, few incidents of arson, including setting a vehicle ablaze in the hill districts, have been reported on Saturday and Sunday.
The ATSUM called the “economic blockade” on Friday, demanding the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council (Amendment) Bill, 2021 be moved in the state Assembly to provide more administrative powers and autonomy to the tribal autonomous bodies.
Following the tension, the Manipur government has suspended mobile data (internet) services for five days in the entire state.
Special Secretary, Home, H. Gyan Prakash, in a notification on Saturday night, said that considering the situation which would cause serious disturbances to the entire peaceful co-existence of the communities and maintenance of public order, ….. suspension/curbing of mobile data services in the territorial jurisdiction of the entire state of Manipur has been ordered.
“….all mobile service providers are hereby directed to ensure compliance of this order,” the notification said.
The notification quoting the Manipur Director General of Police said that in Bishnupur district, an incident occurred on Saturday along NH-2 wherein one van was found burning after being set ablaze by some youths.
The District Magistrates of Bishnupur and Churachandpur have also imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC for a period of two months across these districts.
Police said that several hundred goods-laden trucks carrying essential commodities were stranded in the National Highway-2, which connects Manipur with the rest of the country via Nagaland.
Meanwhile, around 30 tribal students were injured in Imphal on Saturday when the police prevented a protest rally leading to a clash between the two sides. Five tribal student leaders were arrested and sent to jail for 15 days.
Demanding the release of its arrested leaders, the influential students’ body ATSUM has threatened to intensify their stir.
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 – 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.