GUWAHATI: Mobile SMS and Internet services have been blocked in Manipur since Tuesday night where eight people were killed and several others injured in violent protests even as the tribals living in the state’s hill areas pitched for a separate administrative arrangement for them.
Official sources said reports of sporadic incidents of arson were received from tribal Kuki-majority Churachandpur district on Wednesday.
Joining the protests, the United Naga Council (UNC), which is the state’s apex Naga organisation, called a 48-hour National Highway bandh from midnight on Thursday.
The UNC said the government’s move was “a direct challenge to the tribals living in Manipur”. The trouble broke out on Monday following the state Assembly’s passage of three Bills, including the Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (seventh amendment) Bill, 2015 and Manipur Shops and Establishments (second amendment) Bill, 2015. Tribal groups viewed the Bills as “anti-tribal”.
In the wake of the violent protests, Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh called a meeting with the leaders of various tribal bodies on Wednesday but they refused to meet him.
The protesters did not allow anyone to take the bodies of those, who were killed in the incidents, from hospital. They formed a joint action committee of all tribal bodies to spearhead the ‘movement’ and demanded a separate administrative arrangement for the tribals living in the hill areas.
“The Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, sets 1951 as the base year for the identification of non-indigenous people but we, the tribals, were never ruled by the Meitei (Manipuri) Kings. The hill areas were not included even during the 1951 census,” Golam Naulak, president of Paite Students’ Welfare Association of New Delhi, told Express.