Manipur tear gas

Imphal: The All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM) expressed concern over the incident where four people were seriously injured during the eviction drive at New Checkon Tribal Colony on Monday.

The apex tribal student body alleged that the government forcibly attempted the construction of new quarters at the place and condemned in the strongest term the unprovoked police action that has caused fear among residents.

ATSUM said that the residents of the tribal colony have always conveyed to the government that they are not averse to the idea of development and that they welcome the government’s plan to construct a new, multi-storeyed building to house the tribal employees of the state government. 

However, at the same time, the residents have also expressed that an alternative arrangement to house the 187 allottees has to be made first before starting the new construction, said ATSUM in a statement.

It further stated that when the SDO Porompat served a show cause notice for eviction on December 24, 2020, the residents of the colony had filed a PIL vide Writ Appeal No. 11 of 1993 in the High Court and the High Court consequently issued an Interim Order WP(C) No. 345 of 2021, dated October 29, 2021, which maintained that the petitioners (residents) shall not be disturbed if an alternative arrangement is not made by the government. 

According to ATSUM, the interim order of the court stated that “If an alternative arrangement is made by the state, the petitioners shall vacate the same immediately. However, no such alternative arrangement has been made available by the state government to date that would require the residents to vacate the colony,” it added.

The student body alleged that instead, the government attempts to bulldoze the residents into vacating the colony in total violation of the interim order of the High Court. The government‘s unlawful intention is demonstrated today by the fact that it has severed the drinking water supply pipelines, cut electricity connections, and caused severe injury to the residents by firing tear gas and rubber bullets inside the quarters, it said.

The Tribal Colony situated at New Checkon has a deeply rooted legacy in the lives of many tribal people of the state as it has served the welfare of the tribal employees for the last over 60 years, it said.

ATSUM maintained that the colony was established exclusively for residential quarters of Grade IV tribal government servants and employees of Manipur Vide Manipur Gazette No: 94 dated December 14, 1960, with Secretariat Revenue No: 141/13/60M dated December 8, 1960, and since then, the occupants of the aforesaid Quarters have been Tribal Govt. Servants till date. 

Now, it has accommodated 187 families and nine churches constructed since 1974 for the residents to practice their faith, it added.

Before starting any new construction at the colony, ATSUM demanded the state government to uphold the Interim Order of the hon’ble High Court WP(C) No.345 of 2021 dated October 29, 2021, thereby refraining from disturbing the residents unless an alternative arrangement is made for them to relocate.

It also demanded to uphold the Supreme Court Order dated September 29, 2009, and February 16, 2010, by regularisation or relocation of the nine religious structures as the case may be. And also, to ensure that Tribal Colony retains its name and remains exclusively for housing tribal government servants or employees in line with the initial policy of the government demands the student body.

ATSUM also demanded that the government to own responsibility for the four injured persons who are undergoing treatment in the hospitals due to the brutal actions of the Imphal East police.

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