The Joint Committee of Hill Districts Students' Organisation, a conglomeration of tribal students' organisations in the five hill districts of Manipur, has announced that it would impose an indefinite economic blockade against Manipur from October 15 if the State government does not open examination centres for the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) in district headquarters.

A press release said the blockade would be imposed along the two national highways, which are the State’s lifelines. This is expected to cause much suffering to the people.

Tribal people in the hill districts often resort to economic blockade to press their demands. In 2009, there was a blockade for more than 103 days. The then Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and the State government could not solve it. However, the organisations, which imposed the blockade, suspended it ahead of the visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Student leaders told The Hindu that a tribal candidate coming to Imphal for appearing in the TET has to spend a tidy sum for travelling, accommodation and other expenses. Since all other exams are being conducted in the hill districts, there is no reason why the TET cannot be held there, they say.

But officials say there are practical difficulties in holding the TET examinations in the hill districts. Tribal candidates can come here and return on the same day as the districts can be reached within an hour.The students had called a general strike last month to press this demand which the authorities ignored. The government officials have had talks with leaders of the students’ organisation. However, no agreement could be reached.