In a major development, the government of Manipur has agreed to release the top leaders of the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur, (ATSUM), who are currently in judicial custody. Following this, the ATSUM is expected to call off its economic blockade.
The ATSUM has been holding statewide demonstrations opposing the tabling of the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021 (ADC Bill) in the current second session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly.
Things took a dire turn on Tuesday after ATSUM president Paotinthang Lupheng, general secretary SR Andrea, and two other executive members were allegedly picked up from the ATSUM's office in Adimjati Shiksha Ashram, Chingmeirong. At least 5 leaders were remanded in judicial custody for 15 days.
Following these arrests, the tribal student body called for an indefinite emergency shutdown across the hill districts and demanded the immediate release of its members.
Members of tribal student unions blocked the National Highway on Tuesday evening, bringing vehicular movement to a halt. Agitators were seen taking to the streets in Tamenglong and Ukhrul.
On Saturday, after some protests took a violent turn, mobile internet services were suspended across Manipur to curb rumour mongering through the spread of hate speeches and videos, and prohibitory orders imposed in some areas, after two vehicles were reportedly set ablaze in Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts.
Confirming this development, Manipur Minister Letpao Haokip said the government has ‘reached an understanding’ with the agitators.
Talking to media, the Minister postulated that blockade will be lifted ‘today itself’ after the release of the leaders.
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