Sadar Hills blockade comes into force
Source: The Sangai Express / Newmai News Network
Imphal, July 31 2011:
Economic blockade is all set to start from today midnight in Manipur even as public meetings continued today in different villages under Sardar Hills area with many endorsing the 7-day economic blockade.
Public meetings were held at Kangpokpi, Gamziphai, Keithelmanbi and many other places.
The meeting at Keithelmanbi was in progress when this story was filed.
Public leaders in all the meeting voiced one line.
"We will leave no stone unturned to achieve our goal," was the theme of the series of public meeting that started since Saturday.
Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee (SHDDC) has decided to impose economic blockade on National Highways 39 and 53 tentatively for seven days beginning midnight of July 31 to press for the declaration of Sadar Hills as a full fledged district, with the prospect of extending the blockade further if its demand is not met by the State Government by August 7, which has been set as the deadline.
"Following the abject apathy of the State Government to our demand, we are forced into the decision to call a total economic blockade along National Highways 39 and 53 beginning midnight of July 31 till August 7, which may be extended if the Government does not respond positively to the demand for a full fledged Sadar Hills district within the one-week time frame", president of SHDDC Ngamkhohao Haokip had stated a few days back.
The blockade will not give any concession to transportation and movement of essential commodities via the two lifelines of the State, he had added.
Thangkam Lupheng, vice president SHDDC, had observed that the people of Sadar Hills have been persistently waylaid by the State Government over the past decades and added that this is perhaps the last attempt as far as the demand for a separate Sadar Hill district is concerned.
"If a reasonable and rightful demand for a full fledged Sadar Hill district is not agreed to by the State Government, we will be forced to scale up our demand," he had said without spelling out what exactly he meant by scaling up the demand although it is assumed that it could well be a demand for a separate State.
Mr Haokip had noted that in order to give protection to the hill people under the Constitution of India, Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council District Council Act, 1971 was enacted, prior to Manipur gaining statehood, as the government of the day was apprehensive that the cause of the hill people might not be addressed by the establishment.
Despite the act having been implemented in letter and spirit in all the hill districts of Manipur, the cause of Sadar Hills autonomous district council has been constantly and relentlessly ignored by successive government in the state, he said.
Earlier the British administration, and later Manipur Constitution Act, 1947 strongly advocated separate administration for the hill areas of Manipur because of the widely held notion that there is nothing common between the plain and the hill people.
The Northeast (Re-organization) Act, 1971 and other acts of the Constitution also provide special provision for administration under the 6th scheduled in most Northeast states of India, the president said.
He went on to say that the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Act, 1971 effectively empowers the state government to redraw district boundaries.
And accordingly, given the exigency and the politics of the time, successive state government has instituted a committee to study the boundary of Sadar Hills ADC.
Several reports have already been submitted and adjustments have been made, but chief ministers and governors have successively refused to uphold their constitutional duty despite assurances made to SHDDC, he said.
Members of the demand committee recalled the sacrifices made by two youths during separate demonstrations demanding for the declaration of Sadar Hills as a full fledged revenue district.
In 1981, Seikeng Haokip (33), who was part of a long and winding silent procession from Sapermaina to Kangpokpi SDC office demanding Sadar Hill district, was shot dead by Manipur police in an attempt to disperse the protestors.
In 2008, a young class VIII student, Lalminlien Sitlhou, was moved down by a vehicle of security forces in Keithelmanbi while he was obstructing the highway in support of the call for Sadar Hill district.
Mr Lupheng rued that the state government continues to show defiance and apathy despite the demand running into several decades with a heavy toll on existence, not just for the people of Sadar Hills but also for the entire state.