Communal mistrust in Manipur vis-à-vis the ADC Bill, 2021
Manipur students staging protest. File photo

Imphal: All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) on Wednesday evening officially suspended the ongoing economic blockade along the national highways of the state with immediate effect. They added that they will continue the agitation with other ‘democratic means’.

In a press statement, the tribal apex students body stated, “Considering the plight of the general public with regard to the ongoing blockage, the ATSUM has decided to temporarily suspend the ongoing economic blockade along the national highways of the state with immediate effect but will continue the agitation with other forms of democratic protest.”

The ATSUM has been pressing for the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council (Amendment) Bill 2021 to be tabled in the Monsoon Session of the assembly. The students union, however, began protest when the state government instead introduced state introduced the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council 6th and 7th Amendment Bills, which the protesters said, were not in line with their demands.

Also Read | Manipur: Shutdown in hill districts after ATSUM leaders’ arrest

In the press release, the ATSUM reaffirmed their “resolute stance” for the introduction of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) recommended ‘Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill, 2021’ in the state legislative assembly, the ATSUM asked the members of HAC to “clear their position on the said Bill which was unanimously recommended on August 16, 2021”.

The ATSUM press release further stated that the state government should honour the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with ATSUM on November 25, 2021, and materialise the stance at the earliest.

While expressing their gratitude to various students organisations, including All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM), Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO) and its federating units, senior leaders and the general public for extending unflinching support to the union in the genuine demands for the realisation of the constitutional right of the tribals, ATSUM also appealed all to continue supporting the movement for securing the future of the tribal populace.

The five leaders of ATSUM, including its president and general secretary, were picked up by Imphal West police on August 2 following the union’s call for a shutdown in hill districts, to demand the tabling of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) recommended Autonomous District Councils (ADC) Amendment Bill, 2021.

Following the arrest of the student leaders, various tribal student organisations intensified their protests across districts. On August 5, ATSUM imposed an indefinite “economic blockade” along the national highways passing through the hill districts, cutting off supplies to the valley region.

Also Read | Manipur: Police release student leaders; economic blockade lifted

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