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Friday, Oct 07, 2022

Student leaders arrested ahead of tribal group’s shutdown in Manipur released by court

The All Tribal Student’s Union Manipur leaders arrested ahead of the group’s shutdown seeking the passing of Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill 2021 were released Monday evening.

Before their release, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) purportedly signed by the state government and representatives of tribal student groups was released on social media.

Five tribal student leaders arrested in Imphal ahead of a shutdown seeking the passing of the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill 2021 were released “for want of evidence” on Monday.

The leaders of the All Tribal Student’s Union Manipur (ATSUM), who were arrested on August 2 morning on charges of imposing a bandh and a blockade, were released by the chief judicial magistrate of Imphal West around 6.30pm. They declined to speak to reporters.

Before their release, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) purportedly signed by the state government and representatives of tribal student groups was released on social media. It said the five student leaders would be freed and all charges against them withdrawn after the lifting of an economic blockade in force from August 5. However, it is not immediately known if the blockade along the two national highways, announced in protest after the five leaders were arrested, has been lifted.

The MoU said that as the seventh and sixth amendment bills of the Manipur Hill Areas District Councils had been referred to the Hill Areas Committee (HAC), the committee would have consultations with stakeholders before recommending them to the Assembly.

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The MoU was purportedly signed by Hills and Tribal Affairs Minister Letpao Haokip and HAC chairman Diganglung Gangmei on behalf of the state. Representatives of the All Naga Students Association Manipur (ANSAM) and the Kuki Students’ Organisation as well as ATSUM vice-president are also among the signatories.

ANSAM president Peter Wanglar Thirtung Wanglar, another signatory, said, “We have agreed in principle to the agreement to ensure that our leaders are released. However, we will convene a meeting and issue an official statement about our stance.”

On August 1, the ATSUM announced a total shutdown from 6pm on August 3 to 6 pm on August 4 in the hill districts of the state.

First published on: 08-08-2022 at 10:38:43 pm
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