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Massive Protest in Manipur Demands Release of Tribal Student Leaders

Students across the state demanded the release of ATSUM leaders while mounting pressure against the ADC Bill.
tribe student protest

Image Courtesy: EastMojo.Com

Thousands of tribal students from various colleges and universities in Imphal, Manipur, on Thursday staged a protest demanding the immediate release of All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM) leaders, including its president, who were arrested on Tuesday.

The student leaders were arrested just a day after the ATSUM called for a 24-hour shutdown from 6 pm on August 3 till 6 pm on August 4 across the hill districts in the state. They have demanded that the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021 (ADC Bill) not be tabled in the current second session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly. The tribal student body had also warned of more intense agitation if their demand was not heeded.

Thursday's protest at Adimjati Shiksha Ashram, Chingmeirong in Imphal West was spearheaded by the Manipur University Tribal Students’ Union (MUTSU), All College Tribal Students’ Union Imphal (ACTSUI), and Joint Tribal Students’ Union (JTSU), according to a report by the EastMojo

In a joint press statement, the students’ bodies said, “ATSUM leaders are our representatives. They are accountable to the people who elected them”.

“For too long we have been deprived of our rights in our own state. The state government needs to wake up and initiate dialogue with our representatives,” the statement added, as per the EastMojo report.

The students' bodies condemned the state government for allegedly detaining the tribal student leaders. They said the leaders do not deserve to be in police custody and should be treated with respect and dignity.

Citing sources, EastMojo had reported that the Imphal West police on Tuesday arrested the tribal student leaders. Among those arrested are ATSUM president Paotinthang Lupheng, general secretary SR Andrea and two other executive members. They were allegedly picked up from ATSUM's office in Adimjati Shiksha Ashram, Chingmeirong.

Following the shutdown call, the chief judicial magistrate of Imphal West remanded the five leaders of ATSUM to four-day police custody till August 6 on the charge of conspiring to impose an economic blockade in the hill districts of the state.

Following the arrest of the student leaders on Tuesday, the tribal student body called for an indefinite emergency shutdown across the hill districts and demanded immediate release of its members, EastMojo reported.

In Kangpokpi district, members of tribal student unions blocked the National Highway on Tuesday evening, bringing vehicular movement to a halt. Among other places, a similar emergency shutdown was reported in the Ukhrul district, where it was imposed by ATSUM's unit Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong.

The ATSUM on Wednesday strongly condemned and rejected the introduction of the sixth and seventh amendments of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils (Sixth Amendment) Bill 2022 in the ongoing second session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly.

ATSUM vice president Vanlallian Khaute told the Media that the students' body and its federating units think it was an imposed Bill introduced in the House.

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