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Manipur: State govt restores internet services, tribal groups yet to lift ‘economic blockade’

On Saturday, the state government had snapped mobile internet services for five days after two vehicles were torched by miscreants in separate incidents.

Protesting students and police personnel at the site of agitation in Imphal, Manipur, Saturday. (Express Photo)

The Manipur government restored mobile data services in the state Tuesday, a day after the release of arrested tribal student leaders. However, tribal groups were yet to lift the ‘economic blockade’ as reportedly promised by them in an agreement with the state government.

On Saturday, the state government had snapped mobile internet services for five days after two vehicles were torched by miscreants in separate incidents. The incidents of arson occurred amid intensified agitation launched by tribal student bodies demanding the release of arrested ATSUM (All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur) leaders.

An order issued by special secretary (Home) H Gyan Prakash said, “The Director General of Police, Manipur on Tuesday informed that in view of the positive development, the suspension of Internet/mobile data services in the territorial jurisdiction of state of Manipur may be relaxed from Tuesday, August 9.”

Earlier, the ATSUM leaders were released by a city court citing lack of evidence. Prior to their release, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) purportedly signed by the state government and representatives of tribal student groups was released on social media. According to the MoU, the five arrested student leaders were to be freed and all charges against them were to be withdrawn by the state after the lifting of the economic blockade, which has been in force since August 5, by tribal groups.

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The ATSUM, however, has failed to issue any statement on lifting the economic blockade imposed along two national highways in the state.

On the contrary, the ATSUM released a statement Tuesday denouncing the MoU signed with the state government.

Moreover, the ATSUM said it has suspended its vice president for signing the MoU without consulting other ATSUM executives and units.

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Sources said the ATSUM has decided to convene an emergency meeting with the All Naga Students Association Manipur, Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO), and federating units of the ATSUM on August 10 to decide a common strategy with regard to the ongoing agitation over the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council bill, 2021.

Notably, ATSUM leaders were arrested for allegedly imposing a total shutdown and subsequent blockade in the hill districts of Manipur demanding the enactment of the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council bill, 2021, recommended by the Hill Areas Committee (HAC). In the recently concluded Assembly session, the government passed other bills like the 6th and 7th Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Amendment Bills, 2022, but did not introduce the bill recommended by the HAC.

First published on: 09-08-2022 at 10:16:15 pm
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