Even as the Manipur government has begun work on bringing in a new law to replace the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill 2015 which sparked violent protests over the past month, sporadic agitations continue in Imphal, bringing life to a halt. The JCILP (Joint Committee for Inner Line Permit) has decided to continue with the protests even after the state government decided to withdraw the Bill. Their demand – implement the Inner Line Permit or else.
An examination conducted by the Manipur Public Service Commission was disrupted midway on Sunday at Ibotonsana Girl’s Higher Secondary School when an angry mob of school students entered the school forcibly. In the scuffle between the police and the students, three students and four police personnel sustained minor injuries. As many as 400 candidates had turned up for the examination which had to be cancelled.
The Joint Students Union of Government Higher Secondary Schools announced that it will shut down all Government departments until the Inner Line Permit is implemented in Manipur. The Union has further decided that all schools be locked down till at least August 2 after which they will review the situation.
While all government schools remain shut, private schools welfare association had decided that all private schools in the valley area would resume classes from July 22. However after the Joint Students Union took exception to the decision, saying that it was tantamount to disrespecting the ILP movement, these schools were shut again. The government is yet to decide when the situation would be safe enough for all schools to start functioning again.
Last week Imphal city was brought to a standstill with the calling of two general strikes, a strike of all public transportation and autos and bandhs in various parts of the city called by the JCILP. Sit in protests continue in Imphal even on days when life limps back to some semblance of normality. Only doctors and nurses who clearly identify themselves, and patients carrying medical reports have been given relatively free movement so far. While curfew during the day has been lifted by the government, night curfews from 7 pm to 5 am have been kept in place. Restrictions under 144 CrPC prohibiting a large gathering of people at public places remains in force in both Imphal West and Imphal East districts.
Meanwhile, a five member Bill drafting committee under the chairmanship of Law Minister Thoudam Debendra has already held three meetings but invitations to the JCILP to join the process has been turned down. The state government has also appointed a single member Commission of Inquiry to probe the death of 17 year old Sapam Robinhood, the student who died on July 8 after having been hit by a tear gas shell on his left jaw. Sapam had been participating in the students protest to implement the ILP. The inquiry will be conducted by a former judge of the Guahati High Court Justice Binoykumar Singh. The Commssion is to submit its report in the next three months.
But angry locals continue to mount pressure on the government to suspend the policemen responsible for Sapam’s death.
State BJP president Chaoba Singh has meanwhile issued a statement saying that the new bill should ensure that no land be permitted to be sold to non-Manipuris. The JCILP has decided to continue the stir till August 15 if the ILP is not implemented before that.
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