Imphal, December 18 2021: Normal life was severely affected across the hill districts of Manipur owing to the dawn to dusk “total shutdown” called by All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) in pursuance of the demand for introducing the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) recommended Autonomous District Council (ADC) Bill 2021 in the Manipur Legislative Assembly and in solidarity with the protest demonstration held in the national capital on the same issue.
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 trucks and inter-state passenger carriers, got stranded at Mao Gate bordering Nagaland along NH-2 during the bandh period.
There are similar reports of vehicular movement brought to a grinding along the Imphal-Jiribam section of NH-37.Owing to the shutdown, normal life in some hill districts like Senapati, Ukhrul, Kamjong, Chandel, Churachandpur and Tengnoupal was affected.
Roads in these districts wore deserted a deserted look as negligible number of vehicles operated and shops and other business establishments remained shut.
The shutdown, however, had 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 in these districts.
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 the ADC Bill 2021 in a special session of the state Assembly.
The HAC of Manipur Legislative Assembly recommended a new ADC bill that aims to bring uniform development in the hill districts before 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 students’ bodies and civil society organisations which rendered all possible help and assistance in enforcing the 12 hours total shutdown 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 Jahtar 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, Sadar Hills, Saikul, Tengnoupal, Moreh Block, Jiri & Tamenglong and Ukhrul; Young Paite Association, General Headquarters; Hmar Students’ Association, Churachandpur Joint Headquarters; 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 called upon to stand up for this movement.
ATSUM also expressed regrets to any inconveniences caused to the public during the bandh.
In Kangpokpi too, the 12-hour total shutdown of ATSUM was fully endorsed by Kuki Students Organisation, Sadar Hills and its units in the entire district.
All business establishments in the district headquarters were seen closed for the day while all business establishments jn various areas of the district were also reportedly closed as per the’KSO Sadar Hills units’ report.
Only emergency services, medical cases, religion, exams, etc., were exempted from the purview of the total shutdown.
No untoward incidents were reported during the shutdown.
All shops and markets also remained closed on Saturday in Churachandpur town from 5 am to 5 pm as the 12-hour shutdown was enforced vigorously in the town.
Volunteers of YPA and other tribes were seen enforcing the bandh in main market areas of the town stretching from Light House to Kawnpui.
There was hardly any attendance in most government offices with the town wearing a deserted look.
Most banks in the town including SBI, Punjab National Bank, Central Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, IDBI, Axis, HDFC and others also down shutters for the day.
Movement of vehicles between Imphal to Churachandpur came to a grinding halt, while there was no movement of vehicles inside the town areas as well.
Speaking to TPC, KSO information secretary Samuel Guite expressed that oversight of the government regarding the ADC Bill, 2021 is regrettable as the Bill has been drafted for the sake of development of hill areas on par with other parts of the state.
Manipur Tribal Forum, Delhi (MTFD) staged a sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar, Delhi in support of the ADC Bill 2021.The protest was attended by tribal scholars/intellectuals, MP from outer Manipur, legal experts, tribal students and members of Kuki Students Organisation and All Naga Students’ Association and other like-minded student bodies.
Speaking in this regard, MTFD spokesperson Timothy Chongthu opined that there is no reason why the ADC Bill 2021 should not be introduced in the assembly.
Since 1971, the ADC Bill has never been amended, he pointed out, while adding that ADC 2021 Bill will protect the rights of the tribals and will not cause any problems to the government.
The ADC draft Bill 2021 will only increase the number of the elected members and it envisages reservation of seats for women, he added.
Stating that they believe in Gandhian principle of nonviolence, Timothy said that they will continue to protest against the step motherly treatment of the government.