Imphal, June 8 (IANS) A dawn-to-dusk general strike called by the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS), to protect the indigenous people of the state, paralysed normal life in Manipur on Wednesday.
All educational institutes, shops and commercial establishments and public facilities were shut down. No vehicle except those exempt by the JCILPS plied on the streets. Attendance in hospitals and essential services was low.
The protests come a day after it was officially conveyed that President Pranab Mukherjee has refused assent to the three contentious bills.
The bills are the Manipur Land Reforms and Land Revenue (7th Amendment) Bill, 2015, the Manipur Shops and Establishment (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Manipur Protection of Peoples Bill, 2015.
B.K. Moirangcha, convener in charge of the JCILPS said: “It is in protest against refusal by the central government to give assent to the three bills intended to regularise the entry of migrant workers and protect the indigenous people. The motive of the central government in refusing to give the assent is questionable. There are 39 ethnic tribes and communities in Manipur and these bills are for their protection.”
Meanwhile tribal organisations have announced the imposition of a 10-day economic blockade along the national highways from Thursday midnight.
In practical terms it will hit the entire state since nothing can be brought to Manipur as the highways snake through tribal villages. Besides seriously ill persons, candidates for various job interviews and students cannot leave Imphal during this siege. All work in national projects like laying down rail lines will be banned during the blockade.
A statement said: “The tribals in Manipur have been ill treated and the three bills are just one instance. We shall take nothing short of a permanent and sustainable solution.”
The tribal organisations maintain that this is not the end of the problems of tribals. “There are other plans like commissions on population and land reforms which will be against the interest of the tribals. Besides there is a growing demand to make the valley dwellers, the Meiteis, the majority community – Scheduled Tribe. The tribals seem to fear that if the educationally and otherwise advanced communities become tribals they will usurp the job reservations and other benefits.
Meanwhile, students and women have been launching various forms of agitation. The roadmap has changed from Wednesday following the refusal by the President to give assent to the three bills passed by the Manipur Assembly on August 31, 2015.