Hill area bandh relaxed; stir by cop aspirants underway

IMPHAL, 8th July: Even as the indefinite bandh enforced in the hill areas has been suspended after an MoU signed with the government, a 48-hour state-wide total shutdown called by All Manipur Rifleman Viva Voce Completed Batch JAC 2016 has begun.

Along with announcing suspension of the indefinite hill area bandh, which was enforced from July 6, subsequent to an agreement reached with the government of Manipur, tribal students’ organisations have expressed strong condemnation over alleged assault of Thadou Students’ Association (TSA), Kangvai block president Thangminlun Haokip.

A joint statement issued by TSA-HQ, Rongmei Naga Students’ Organisation-North East India (RNSO-NEI) and Liangmei Naga Katimai Ruangdi-Assam, Manipur Nagaland) informed that an agreement was arrived at on July 7 with the government on their demand for recruitment of MIL (tribal languages) teachers.

Consequently, the indefinite hill area bandh has been relaxed but the same will be resumed if other demands are not met within July 10, the statement said, adding that a memorandum of understanding was signed in the presence of education minister Th Radheshyam, social welfare minister Nemcha Kipgen and commissioner (Education/S) at the office chamber of the education minister.

The tribal student bodies also cautioned the government that they will resume the agitation if the demands for restoration of normalcy in Manipur University, constituting a high level independent inquiry commission to find lasting solution to the frequent problems in Manipur University and registering FIR and arresting of KSO volunteers and police personnel involved in intimidating and assaulting of the TSA Kangvai block president leader and bandh volunteers at Churachandpur are not honoured.

Strongly condemning the assault on Thangminlun Haokip at his Ukhagate, Churachandpur house on July 6 morning, the joint statement disclosed about the youths, who came in a gypsy and assaulted Thangminlun, claiming to be activists of the Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO).

Seven bandh volunteers were also detained by the police on July 6 as a precautionary measure. “Though the police action might be part of the precautionary measure as claimed by them, we strongly condemn the police for not detaining the KSO activists who threatened and tried to assault bandh volunteers. We also condemn the police for not taking any action against KSO volunteers who were involved in the assault of the TSA leader and wonder what connections the police have with the KSO activists,” the student bodies said.

Referring to detention of students who did not commit any crime compared to allowing free hand to those responsible for paralysing Manipur University for over a month, the statement questioned whether the state government has been instigating the students to agitate in Manipur University while resorting to arrest tribal students who are only demanding restoration of normalcy in the university and recruitment of tribal MIL teachers.

“We are disgusted to learn that the chief minister, instead of trying to address the issue and our concerns, threatened certain MLAs for not being able to stop us from agitating. We would like to make it clear that our demands have nothing to do with any particular person or minister or MLA but is purely in the interest of students of Manipur who have long been denied of their right to education and learning in their languages.”

“We have been appreciating the government’s slogans and programmes of “go to hills”, “people’s day”, etc., but the way the government is dealing with our genuine problems is a sharp contradiction. It appears that the government is instigating some tribal student organisations to turn against fellow tribal students. Is this tribal-tribal divide an extension of the old hill-valley divide? Is this all about a deeper layer of divide and rule policy played by the government? The chief minister, which claims his government to be a people's government and which we used to believe to be so, should not feel afraid to talk to us in a respectful and honourable manner,” the joint statement said.

Informing that the on-going crisis in Manipur University has been highlighted in a memorandum submitted to the Union HRD minister on Saturday and sought the minister’s intervention to solve the MU issue, the statement observed that in-spite of the agitation by Manipur University Students’ Union paralysing the university for a protracted period, the state government seems to have not done its best to end the impasse.

“We understand that the agitating MUSU had refused an invitation from the chief minister for holding talks, but we wonder why the chief minister has not taken any effective action. The chief minister talks about bandh-free Manipur, but a ‘bandh’ to education and learning has been imposed in Manipur University for more than a month and the government seems happy to remain as a spectator.” TSA, RNSO-NEI and LNKR-AMN also regretted inconvenience caused by the bandh and expressed gratitude to the public and CSOs for their support.

Meanwhile, All Manipur Rifleman Viva Voce Completed Batch JAC 2016 president Laitonjam Kiran Kumar Singh claimed that a 48-hours state-wide total shutdown called to protest non-declaration of the viva voce result for recruitment of 441 posts in Manipur Rifles began with effect from the Saturday midnight.

Speaking to media persons at Manipur Press Club here Sunday, Kiran Kumar maintained that on May 11, 2016, a notice was issued for recruitment of 441 posts in Manipur Rifles. On June 2 the same year, the physical tests were conducted followed by a written test on August 7. After a long time, the viva voce for the written-test selected candidates was held on March 26 this year. However, the results remain undeclared till date. Apart from submitting memorandums to the CM, the candidates had set July 7 as the deadline for declaration of results to the government, he informed.

As the government continues to feign ignorance of the plight of the candidates, the JAC decided to go ahead with the statewide total shutdown from Saturday midnight, the president added. Essential services like media, electricity, water, medical and fire along with religious ceremonies would be exempted from the purview of the shutdown. All unwanted incidents that may occur during the course of shutdown will be the sole responsibility of the government. However, if the government continues to maintain its ignorance on the issue, the JAC will launch more intense stir, Kiran cautioned.

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