UT News Service | IMPHAL, Aug 27: Historic students’ agitation against “artificial food scarcity” in Manipur in 1965 in which four students were killed in actions by security forces in Imphal was observed on Thursday.
The 55th Hunger Marchers’ Day was observed by the students of the state under the aegis of All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU), the oldest student body in the state that gave birth after the students’ spontaneous uprising.
On this day in 1965, three students and a driver of the AIR Imphal died in the security force firing as the latter fired their guns towards students who were agitating against “artificial food scarcity” allegedly created by over export of rice from the state.
Unlike the previous years, this year the observation programmes were held at low scale strictly adhering to the government guideline on COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
To ensure the guideline is not violated, the student body suspended its traditional hunger marchers’ rally which students used to carry out on the streets in Imphal every year on this day. Even though the programmes were organised by various units of the student body, the main function was held at AMSU headquarters office inside the DM College campus.
Speaking on the occasion, AMSU president Peter Laishram recalled the historic uprising of the students and claimed that Manipur was a self sustainable state in food production until the erstwhile Kingdom was merged with the Indian Union. He also said that Manipur was made dependent on others for food till today since the merger with the Indian Union.
Before 1965, Manipur had produced enough food grains to feed its entire population.
Former presidents and leaders of the student body taking part in the commemoration programme expressed their concerns over Manipur being unable to attain self sufficient state even after decades of India’s Independence. They opined that students need to participate in state issues.
“The idea of students confining in study rooms is not suited with time. While studying they need to take part in issues of the state”, the student leaders said.
All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) which was founded as the fallout of the 1965 incidents has been observing the day as “Hunger Marchers’ Day” every year to remember the sacrifice made by the three students – Nabakumar, Chaobhal and Pramodini Devi and a driver of the AIR, Imphal, Nilamani.
The formal observance began with the hoisting of the flag of the students’ body by its president Peter Laishram at the student martyrs’ complex at Pishum Chingamacha in Imphal.
Various units of the student body also observed the day at their respective levels but in a low scale to avoid violation of the COVID-19 guideline laid down by the government.