Normal life across hill districts of Manipur was hit today owing to a dawn to dusk “total shutdown” imposed by All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM). The bandh was imposed demanding introduction of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) recommended Autonomous District Council (ADC) Bill 2021 in the Manipur Legislative Assembly. The shutdown commenced from 5 am and ended peacefully at 5 pm.
The strike also affected normal vehicular movements on the national highways passing through the hill districts.
Reports said that hundreds of vehicles, mostly goods ferry trucks and inter-state passenger service vehicles, stranded at Mao Gate bordering Nagaland along NH-2 during the bandh period. Similar reports of stranding vehicles along the Imphal-Jiribam section of NH-37 also have been reported.
Owing to the shutdown, normal life in some hill districts like Senapati, Ukhrul, Kamjong, Chandel, Churachandpur and Tengnoupal was affected.
Roads in these districts were seen deserted as a negligible number of vehicles were plying on the roads and shops and other business establishments remained shut. The shutdown, however, has little impact in Noney and Tamenglong districts.
Though, there was slight reduction in volume compared to other normal days, a good number of commercial and private vehicles were seen plying on the roads.
There were no reports of any untoward incident related with the strike even as a good number of police and security personnel were deployed at sensitive areas, particularly at district headquarters.
All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur (ATSUM), Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO), All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM) and other federating units of ATSUM are campaigning for introduction of HAC recommended ADC bill 2021 in a special session of the state Assembly.
The Hill Areas Committee (HAC) of Manipur Legislative Assembly recommended a new ADC bill that aims to bring equal development in the hill districts before the commencement of the last session of the state Assembly in August.
While recommending the bill, the committee of the state Assembly maintained there were deficiencies in the existing Act that governs the ADC.
The new draft bill seeks to repeal and replace the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971 in order to provide more autonomy to the HAC and the district councils.
Meanwhile, ATSUM has expressed profound gratitude to all the student bodies and civil society organisations which have rendered all possible help and assistance in enforcing the 12 hours total shutdown called by ATSUM in the “entire hill districts of Manipur”.
ATSUM said that it deeply appreciated ANSAM, KSO-GHQ and its branches, ATSUM federating units for being “staunch defenders of tribal rights by supporting and sustaining the ADC movement”. It added, “Considering the importance of the ADC movement to secure the rights of the tribal people of the state, and in support of HAC recommended ADC Bill 2021, tribals in Delhi under the aegis of Manipur Tribal Forum Delhi (MTFD) held a mass protest at Jantar Mantar, Delhi. ATSUM lauded the “resolve and support of Manipur tribals” in Delhi in showing unity and integrity for the cause of the tribal people’s movement.
ATSUM then thanked Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong (TKS), Naga Students’ Union Chandel (NSUC), Senapati District Students’ Association (SDSA), Zeliangrong Students’ Union Manipur (ZSUM), Joint Student Bodies (JSB) Churachandpur, KSO Churachandpur, KSO Sadar Hills, KSO Saikul, KSO Tengnoupal, KSO Moreh Block, KSO Jiri & Tamenglong, KSO Ukhrul, Young Paite Association, General Headquarters, Hmar Students’ Association, Churachandpur Joint Headquarter, Zillai (Vaiphei Students’ Association), Churachandpur District and Gangte Students’ Organisation, General Headquarter.
ATSUM then appealed for the continuous and unstinted support of the above mentioned bodies when call upon to stand up for this movement. ATSUM also expressed regrets to any inconveniences caused to the general public during the bandh.