Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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Manipur Government's effort to restart inter district bus service foiled by agitators

MST Buses Flagged Off for Imphal-Churachandpur and Imphal-Mao Return Midway; Kuki and Zomis clash in CCpur but now reconciled; Governor and Chief Minister Meet; CBSE Withdraws Affiliation of 25 Schools

Manipur State Transport (MST) buses which were flagged off by the State Government with a hyped publicity on December 23 for plying from Imphal to Churachandpur and Imphal to Mao return midway due to blockage by the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) and Committee on Tribal Unity (COTU).

MST bus from Imphal to Churachandpur has returned from Phougakchao Ikhai, Bishnupur district, amid additional security forces deployed along the highways, reports said.

The Imphal to Churachandpur MST bus service, which ceased to be operational since the brokeout of violence on May 3, was flagged off from Malom oil depot, Imphal in the morning on December 23 and reached Pohougakchao Ikhai at around 11.10 am. Later, the bus was reportedly departed for Imphal from Phougakchao Ikhai with only one passenger without reaching Torbung.

Reports said that Kuki-Zomi tribal people block the Imphal-Churachandpur Road near Torbung Bangla on learning that the State government has announced to operate bus service. The ITLF also declared that the border between Bishnupur district and Churachandpur district has been sealed.

Meanwhile, the MST bus which was flagged off from North AOC, Imphal for Senapati has returned from Kanglatongbi as the volunteers of COTU block the public bus service, reports said.

MAYOL Long March for National Regeneration

Hundreds of youths under the banner Manipur Youth League (MAYOL) continues its Long March for National Regeneration (Eikhoigi Anouba Lang-on gi Paojel Puba Lamsang Khongchat) and enters fourth day on December 23.

The 21-Day Long March which will cover violence-hit areas in the five valley districts of Manipur was flagged off from Kangla, Imphal on December 20. The Long March has been organised by Manipur Youth League (MAYOL) and will conclude on January 9, 2024.

Convenor of Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) Jeetendra Ningomba flagged off the long march on December 20 morning after the torch bearer received the holy flames from Kangla.

Governor and Chief Minister Meet

Governor of Manipur, Anusuiya Uikey met with Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren and Chief Secretary Dr Vineet Joshi at Raj Bhavan on December 22 and discussed a wide range of issues pertaining to restoration of peace and normalcy, re-settlement of displaced people to their own places, distribution of compensation to families who have lost their houses and properties etc.

According to a press release from the Raj Bhavan, the Governor enquired about the progress of the final assessment of the damages, due to violence, being conducted by the State government so that the interim relief amount can be distributed immediately.

Kuki and Zomis clash in CCpur but now reconciled

As many as 22 people were reportedly injured in an intense fight between the Kuki and Zomi communities in Churachandpur district after a small group of Zomi hard cores attempted to raise the Zomi flag and spray ZOGAM (Zoland) near the memorial stone of Thingkangphai Village, a Kuki village situated amidst Zo communities around 9.15 pm on December 18.

According to reports, the scuffle involving 50-60 individuals escalated with more than 1,000 Zomi people gathering aggressively, vociferously protesting near the chief’s house in Thingkangphai at around 9.35 pm. Sensing the potential for a significant clash, Kuki residents from the Northern side of town (Tuibong area) began marching towards Thingkangphai.

Officers along with Quick Response Team (QRT) units of Churachandpur District Police reached Thingkangphai and successfully dispersed the crowd. The situation came under control and the dispersed crowd was effectively managed with continuous police deployment, report said.

Reports added that another confrontation unfolded at Selmat bridge, the border between Kuki and Zo people. A police team, initially positioned between the two communities, managed the situation for a brief period before the Rapid Action Force (RAF) intervened.

To avoid escalation of tension with serious apprehensions of breaching of law and order, Churachandpur DC also requested suspension of internet/mobile internet in the whole revenue jurisdiction of Churachandpur district.

However, regarding the incident which involved Kuki and Zomi Students, the Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO) general headquarters sought forgiveness at the office of the Zomi Council Steering Committee in the evening.

The KSO and Zomi Students’ Federation (ZSF) made a joint declaration, stating that in the light of the escalation of tension and insinuation of violence on the part of KSO student leaders which rendered several innocent Zomi civilian injured, the KSO tendered an apology on behalf of the violent mob to the ZSF.

The joint declaration also added that the ZSF accepts the apology as per their traditional custom tendered by KSO in regards to the unfortunate event. Henceforth, both student organisations resolved to uphold peaceful co-existence and mutual respect and that no individual or group shall invoke or insinuate such kind of hatred among the communities, the release added.

CBSE Withdraws Affiliation of 25 Schools

The Department of Education (S), Government of Manipur on December 19 notified that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), New Delhi, has withdrawn the affiliation, which was recently granted to 25 schools, in the state with immediate effect.

The move was taken on the ground that the NOC submitted by these schools has not been issued by the authorised functionaries of the state government and for cancellation of affiliation as requested by the State Government dated December 16, 2023, stated a release issued by Joint Secretary of Education (S) Government of Manipur, Anjali Chongtham.

The 25 schools are ST Peter’s School (affiliation no. 1230153), Soikholal Ideal High School (affiliation no. 1230154), Excel Foundation Academy (affiliation no. 1230155), Ebenezer Academy (affiliation no. 1230156), TL Shalom Academy (affiliation no. 1230157), Convention English High School Sinzawl (affiliation no. 1230158), Siamsinpawlpi Residential School (affiliation no. 1230159), Salt Brook School (affiliation no. 1230160), Young Learners’ School (affiliation no. 1230161) Easton Hall School (affiliation no. 1730162), The Dawn School (affiliation no. 1230163), Happy Heart School (affiliation no. 1230164), it stated.

The list also includes Hermon English School (affiliation no. 1230165), Kaikhoen Academy (affiliation no. 1230166), Good Samaritan Public School (affiliation no. 1230167), VK Tawna High School (affiliation no. 1230168), Lighthouse School (affiliation no. 1230169),  2 in 1 Omega Public School and Kindergarten (affiliation no. 1230170), Lhunkhosat Memorial English High School (affiliation no. 1230171), Christian English High School (affiliation no. 1230172), The Elite Higher Secondary School (affiliation no. 1230173), LL Henjou English High School (affiliation no. 1230174), The Diamond English High School (affiliation no. 1230175), LM English School (affiliation no. 1230177) and MBC Higher Secondary School, Kangpokpi (affiliation no. 1230178), it stated.

It is also clarified that necessary action will be initiated against those responsible for flouting rules and regulations of the state government or of the Central Board of School Education. If any school is found not following due process in the future, necessary action will be initiated against them also, apart from withdrawing of affiliation by competent authority, it warned.

JD (U) Delegation Calls on Governor

A six-member delegation of Janata Dal (United), Manipur led by its President Kshetrimayum Biren called on Governor Anusuiya Uikey at the Raj Bhavan on December 21 and requested to extend assistance to artists, actors, technicians in Manipur.

The delegation submitted a memorandum to the Governor and said, the artist community has been badly affected due to the crisis in the state and therefore the government should support them, the Raj Bhavan said in a press release.

87 Kuki-Zomi Dead Bodies Burried

A total of 87 bodies who are the victims of the violence that erupted on May 3 from Churachandpur were buried during a mass burial programme held at “Kuki-Zo Martyrs Cemetery” at Sehken in Churachandpur district on December 20.

The mass burial programme was organised by Joint Philanthropic Organisation (JPO) at Peace Ground, Tuibuong in Churachandpur district amid heavy security after section 144 imposed in the district following clashes between members of two tribal student bodies on Sunday (December 17) night. The prohibitory order is in force till February 18, 2024 to avoid further escalation of violence.

The burial of the 87 bodies from Kuki-Zomi community took place after seven months into Manipur violence which erupted on May 3. Out of the total 87 bodies, 41 were airlifted from Imphal last week and another 46 were already lying at the Churachandpur hospital morgue. The retrieval of bodies from Imphal and vice versa could happened only after the Supreme Court intervened by directing the state government to facilitate the dignified burial of those killed in the conflict after handing over the bodies to victims’ kins.

House Privilege Committee Flayed

Veteran politician Okram Joy has expressed strong disappointment with the sitting of the Privileges Committee of the Manipur Legislative Assembly which met to discuss his petition on December 21 and said it has been reduced to a farce.

The petition he filed on May 18 alleges unethical conduct by 10 MLAs from Kuki-Zomi tribes who have been demanding a Separate Administration.

Joy, who addressed the media at his residence at Kakwa in Imphal West district on December 21 highlighted the absence of all Privilege Committee members, except for the Committee Chairman Sapam Nishikanta, MLA of Keishamthong Assembly Constituency (AC) during the Committee meeting.

The members of the panel are Achab Uddin of Jiribam AC, RK Imo of Sagolband AC, Abdul Nasir of Lilong AC, Sanasam Premchandra of Kumbi AC, Okram Surjakumar of Khangabok AC and LM Khaute of Churachandpur AC.

Brinda’s House Vandalised; Historical Artifacts

Even after repeated clarifications by former Manipur Police Officer Thounaojam Brinda, a group Meira Paibis (women vigilantes) from Bishnupur district’s Torbung village on December 18, reportedly ransacked her Imphal house destroying historical artifacts.

In a press conference held at her residence at Imphal on December 18, former police officer Brinda again clarified that an incomplete audio recording of her speech from a personal meeting had gone viral, sparking outrage.

Brinda reiterated her statement, saying, “Like before, I would like to withdraw my words expressed in the recent viral audio.” Brinda also told that the audio file, which had surfaced in the social media, is actually an audio of a personal conversation with Yambem Laba, a senior journalist whom he called uncle on October 3.

Brinda also shared her dismay over the destruction of valuable artifacts at her residence during a recent act of vandalism.

Brinda, whose father-in-law is a descendant of Yuvraj Tikendrajit, expressed deep sadness over the loss of a chair that once belonged to the historical figure Veer Tikendrajit.

She revealed that she had already issued apologies twice in connection with this audio, as allegedly instructed by individuals named Arambai Tengol and Meitei Leepun. The former officer explained that some women leaders had visited her home the following day seeking an apology, but she was not present at the time.

This was second time that a former Senior Police official Brinda’s house was vandalized even after her clarifications on an unverified viral audio clip.

Earlier in October first week also, a large number of volunteers of Arambai Tenggol gathered and surrounded the house of Brinda who contested the recently Assembly elections on a JD (U) ticket at Yaiskul Janmasthan after the same audio clip went viral.

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