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Churachandpur on the boil

Students from Manipur stage a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi onWednesday against the violence in their State. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

Students from Manipur stage a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi onWednesday against the violence in their State. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

After two days of sporadic clashes between tribal groups resisting the legislations recently passed by the Manipur State Assembly, and the police it was a day of apparent calm in the southern district of Churachandpur.

The death toll remains at eight, while junior-level police personnel said that four persons have died over last two days. The streets in most of the hill districts bordering Mizoram and Myanmar, remained empty and no fresh case of firing by police reported on Wednesday. However, in Churachandpur town, the district education office was set on fire and the police station was targeted for the second time, after Tuesday. The Deputy Commissioner’s office was also attacked but the agitators were quickly dispersed by the police. The locals complained that the police “fired directly at the mob” without warning. Senior police officials were not available for comment.

JAC formed

A Joint Action Committee (JAC), with representatives from the civil society, tribal political groups and the students union, was formed by the Churachandpur residents opposing the new legislations. JAC passed three resolutions on Wednesday evening after a two-hour-long meeting. The organisation has decided that a separate administration--as demanded few years ago -- will have to be put in place by the government at the earliest.

“Separate administration” was the demand of the United People Front (UPF) and the Kuki National Organisation (KNO) – the apex bodies of various tribal underground (UGs) outfits – during their meetings with the government, some time back, said the Joint Secretary of the JAC, Francis Songate.

“JAC supports the demand of separate administration raised by UPF and KNO. The demand has to be met to take talks further,” Mr. Songate said and added that separate administration “precisely means formation of a state within a state.”

Two other resolutions passed are even more critical. JAC has demanded “immediate withdrawal” of the Bills and the amendments passed in the Manipur Assembly on August 31. “If we carefully study the legislations, we would realise that there is a hidden agenda (of the government) in it. The agenda is to buy tribal land in the Hill areas,” Mr. Songata said. However, noted human rights activist Babloo Lointongbam told The Hindu earlier that it was a “wrong idea” and the “tribal interest will not be affected” due to new legislations.

JAC also demanded “independent judicial inquiry” into the firing and death of the protestors. “Unless these demands are met we will continue with our movement for months or years and will not take the bodies of the martyrs from the hospital,” Mr. Songata told The Hindu from Churachandpur on phone.

On Thursday, the JAC will hold a rally on the ground close to the district hospital.

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Printable version | Jun 28, 2022 1:13:54 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Manipur-Churachandpur-on-the-boil/article60293861.ece