Imphal: Scores of tribal students from various colleges and universities in Imphal staged a protest at Adimjati Shiksha Ashram, Chingmeirong in Imphal West, on Thursday to demand the immediate release of All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM) leaders, including its president, arrested on Tuesday.
The protest was spearheaded by the Manipur University Tribal Students’ Union (MUTSU), All College Tribal Students’ Union Imphal (ACTSUI), and Joint Tribal Students’ Union (JTSU).
In a joint press statement, the students’ body stated that “ATSUM leaders are our representatives. They are accountable to the people who elected them”.
“For too long we have been deprived of our rights in our own state. The state government needs to wake up and initiate dialogue with our representatives,” the statement further read.
Condemning the state government for allegedly detaining the tribal student leaders, the joint statement said the ATSUM leaders do not deserve to be in police custody. ” They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity,” the statement read.
The chief judicial magistrate Imphal West had remanded five leaders of ATSUM to four days’ police custody for four days till August 6 on the charge of conspiring to impose an economic blockade in the hill districts of the state.
The five tribal student leaders were picked up from the ATSUM office over the proposed 24-hour total shutdown in the hill districts of the state from 6 pm on August 3 till 6 pm on August 4 to press the state government for the tabling of the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021 in the ongoing second session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly.
The five arrested student leaders have been identified as Paotinthang Lupheng, Andria Sinruwang, Khaiminlen Doungel, Marankhai Awungshi, and John H Pulamte.
Following their arrest, the tribal student body has imposed an indefinite shutdown across the hill districts and has demanded the immediate release of its members.
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