Pact signed to table ADC Bill; blockade suspended
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, November 25 2021: ATSUM, KSO and ANSAM have agreed to suspend the indefinite economic blockade after the state government ceded to their demand for tabling the draft Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill 2021 in the upcoming winter session of the state legislative assembly.

The development came after arrest of several executive members of the three student bodies triggered lightning bandh on top of the indefinite economic blockade enforced in the hill areas since Tuesday midnight.

The talk between ATSUM, ANSAM, KSO and state government held Thursday evening reached an agreement and a pact consequently signed in the presence of ministers Letpao Haokip, L Dikho and Vungzagin Valte, and officers of Tribal Affairs and Hills department.

According to the agreement, there will be a discussion between Hill Areas Committee (HAC) of the Manipur Legislative Assembly and the state government by the end of November on the draft ADC Bill.

Thereafter, the Bill will be introduced by the government in the upcoming winter session of the assembly after completing the due process of law provided under the Constitution of India.

Both parties also agreed that the government shall release the arrested executive members of the three student bodies and the latter to suspend the ongoing indefinite economic blockade for the time being.

Additional chief secretary Letkhogin Haokip signed the agreement on behalf of the government.

The agitating party was represented by ATSUM president Paotinthang Lupheng, ANSAM president Wanglar Thiirtung and KSO GHQ president Sasang Vaiphei.

The 11 tribal student leaders, who were arrested by Nungba Police on Wednesday night as part of the government crackdown against enforcement of the economic blockade, have also been released without any condition.

The arrested student leaders are ATSUM president Paotinthang Lupheng, general secretary Andrea, executive members Maraikhai, Dinning, Ramangva Mathew, Shimthar Jajo, Khaiminlien Doungel, KSO GHQ's Stony, Mangmin and ANSAM's Thotso and Thora.

They were kept in different police stations in Imphal and were produced before duty magistrate after Covid-19 test on Wednesday night.

Mention may be made that the 11 were arrested by Nungba Police while on their way to Jiribam.

Earlier, Senapati district student leaders imposed lightning bandh the district headquarters after 2 pm, demanding the state government to release the arrested tribal student leaders.

Different tribal student organisations including the Joint Student Bodies, Churachandpur; Senapati District Students' Association; Churachandpur, Sadar Hills, Tengnoupal, Ukhrul, Jiri & Tamenglong; Tangkhul Students Union (TKS); Naga Students Union, Chandel; All Tribal Students Union, Imphal; Tribal Students Union, Manipur University; and the Naga Students' Federation (NSF) strongly condemned arrest of the tribal student leaders.

Registering its protest against the arrest of trib-alstudent leaders TKS also enforced a lightning 'total shutdown' in Ukhrul town on Thursday.

Around 2 pm a team of the district's apex students' body went around the township announcing the lightning total shutdown on a public address system.

Within minutes, all commercial establishments downed their shutters and vehicles kept off the town's main road.

The move came after the state government failed to release the arrested leaders of ATSUM, ANSAM and KSO by 2 pm, an ultimatum set by ATSUM.

In a statement, TKS condemned arrest of leaders of ATSUM, ANSAM and KSO at Nungba in Tamenglong district.

"We appeal to the government of Manipur to release the arrested tribal student leaders unconditionally at the earliest before the issue escalated into an uncontrollable situation".

TKS continued that it reaffirmed its support to ATSUM, ANSAM and KSO in demanding to convene a special session of the State Assembly to table the HAC recommended ADC Bill, 2021.All College Tribal Students' Union also condemned the arrest.

In separate releases, the student bodies said have been provoked by the unlawful arrest of ATSUM, ANSAM and KSO leaders at Nungba by Manipur police.

This act of aggression led by the present government against democratic agitation has seriously created complete chaos and painted Manipur as a state led by totalitarian form of government, they denounced.

Making it clear that the whole tribal populace will not succumb to such repressive tactics to deny the constitutional rights of the tribal, the student bodies said that they will stand firm with their legitimate demands and ensure that justice is delivered to the tribal in the state as guaranteed by the constitution of India.

In another release, Naga Students' Federation extended solidarity to the democratically agitating student community in Manipur whose sole aspiration, the Federation said, is for the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the tribal populace in the state to be respected and upheld in toto by the state government.

The Federation condemned the unlawful arrest of the student leaders and feared for their well-being while in police custody.

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