Anti-merger shutdowns in Manipur valley

Imphal: Life in the valley districts of Manipur was adversely affected on Saturday owing to rebel-sponsored separate  shutdowns, protesting the merger of the erstwhile kingdom of Manipur to the Indian union.

During the shutdown period, shops, public transport, other business establishments, financial and educational institutions remained closed in the valley districts.

A lesser number of private vehicles were seen on the roads in the state capital where all the important market places like Paona Bazar, Thangal Bazar and Ima Keithel, Khwairamband Keithel wore a deserted look. Shops including most of the pharmacies and other business establishments, oil pumps and financial institutions remained down their shutters.

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Similar situation was reported from district headquarters in the valley. Inter-state and inter-district buses remained off the roads fearing backlash from the rebels if they defy the bandh.

The shutdowns also largely affected remote areas of six valley districts of Thoubal, Kakching, Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur and Jiribam where even small shops in the villages reportedly remained closed for the day. The shutdowns have no impact in the hill districts.

No untoward incident was reported from anywhere during the bandh. However, a tighter security measure was taken up in Imphal and sensitive areas in the outskirts of the state capital.

Armed police teams were deployed at various places in the Imphal area, particularly in the outskirts of the city, as a part of security measures to check any untoward incidents related to the shutdowns. Some rebel groups in Manipur have been observing October 15 every year as “National Back Day.”

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Among others, the Coordination Committee (CorCom), a conglomerate of four armed rebel groups, imposed the bandh from the midnight of October 14 till 5 pm of October 15. Another group – Socialist Revolutionary Party (SOREPA) Kangleipak also called the bandh from 5 am to 5 pm of October 15.

While rebel group Alliance for Socialist Unity, Kangleipak (ASUK) imposed the bandh from 6 am to 6 pm of October 15. The rebel groups called the bandh protesting the “annexation of the erstwhile nation” on October 15, 1949.

It was on this day (October 15) in 1949 that Manipur was declared merged to the Indian union after signing the  ‘Merger Agreement’ on September 21 of the same year.


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