Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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Tribal Unity Day held at memorial site at Khuga for those killed in agitation against the now aborted three controversial Manipur people protection bills

Tribal Unity Day Held; Education Department Prepares to Reopen Educational Institutions; Dispute Over Tunnel Naming; Drugs Seized

While the education department is preparing to re-open educations institutions, the health department says it is not right time. Manipur Health Services director Dr K Rajo on September 3 said that the health directorate does not encourage reopening of schools and colleges which some organisations have urged the state government, despite dipping down of COVID-19 cases for the past few days.

Earlier on September 2 the Commissioner of Education of Manipur government, M Harekrishna in a letter regarding reopening of educational institutions has asked the director of University and Higher Education, registrars of Dhanamanjuri University and Manipur Technical University, controller of Technical Education and joint director SCERT Manipur to submit a detailed report on level of vaccination in each school and college at the earliest.

Dr Rajo in a press conference held at Ophthalmic Cell, Directorate of Health Services, Lamphelpat, Imphal West on September 3 said that the number of COVID-19 cases is decreasing gradually but sometimes there is fluctuation in the number of cases. As such, it could not be considered a right time to reopen schools and colleges.

He further said amid this situation, the state has also received the report of new variants, and there is no need to worry much as the strain would not be that serious. However, people should never forget to maintain COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and get vaccinated without fail, he appealed.

In the press conference, IDSP state surveillance officer, Somorjit Ningombam said mentioning about vaccination rate, that so far 61.5 per cent and 18.34 per cent of the total population have been vaccinated for the first and second dose respectively. The health department is facing many challenges in convincing people for vaccination in hill areas. However, the department is carrying out vaccination drives in association with religious leaders.

However, in a letter issued on September 2, commissioner of Higher and Technical Education (education S) M Harekrishna has asked the heads of the departments concerned to impress upon both teaching and non-teaching staff under their departments for vaccination at the earliest, if not done yet.

The commissioner stated that the improving Covid-19 scenario in the state is likely to result in opening of the educational institutions in both schools and colleges in the near future.

Among various measures, vaccination of all teaching and non-teaching staff (preferably in two doses) may also be considered to ensure safety in schools/colleges, the letter stated.

While the government is contemplating various modalities for opening the same, it is also imperative that it is done after taking into consideration all the safety measures required to be taken up prior to the opening, the letter added.

Social Gatherings and Feasts Still Under COVID-19 Restrictions

The Manipur government on September 3 has reiterated its order that social gatherings and feasts are not permitted in the state in view of the COVID-19 pandemic while the earlier order dated 21.08.2021 will remain in force.

The order issued by chief secretary and chairman of the State Executive Committee of the State Disaster Management Authority directed the deputy commissioners and superintendents of police of districts to strictly enforce the order issued and ensure people follow Covid Appropriate Behaviour.

The government order also stated that the instructions against social gatherings and feasts must be widely circulated within the districts and prompt action must be taken against SOP violators.

The order further stated that in view of the opening of many economic activities, the banks are permitted to undertake public transactions on all working days from 10 am to 2.30 pm, while directing each branch managers to ensure that Covid Appropriate Behaviour is strictly enforced.

Brown Sugar and Opium Worth Rs. 90 Core Seized
Brown Sugar manufacturing facility busted, drugs seized.

A team of Manipur Police on September 1 at 1:30 am busted an opium and brown sugar manufacturing unit run by a policeman at his residence at Yairipok Tulihal Awang Leikai in Thoubal district.

The policeman, who has been identified as one Md Mujibur Rahman, 42, son of late Md Fazal Khan of Yairipok Tulihal Awang Leikai, was arrested along with another person. Mujibur has been working as Manipur police head constable posted in Tamenglong district.

During the operation, the police team seized three bags of suspected brown sugar weighing 40 kg and 11 bags of opium (kani) weighing 430 is worth around Rs 90 crore in the international market, Superintendent of Police, Imphal East, N Herojit told the media.

Notably, Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren has announced Rs 10 lakh reward for the police team that busted a drug manufacturing unit at Yairipok in Thoubal district and seized huge quantity of suspected brown sugar and opium worth Rs 90 crore in the international market.

“Zero tolerance for anyone involved with illicit drugs. A team of Manipur Police, District Administration and volunteers destroyed a Brown Sugar manufacturing unit at Yairipok. Recovered 3 bags of suspected Brown Sugar weighing 40kg,” Biren tweeted on September 1.

One police ID card; one keypad Nokia phone black in colour; one empty LPG gas cylinder; one gas burner; one aluminium tub; one large aluminium pot (tekshi); one small aluminium tekshi; one sintex (container) blue in colour (300 litre); two brites (container) 200 litre; one brite (100 litre); two immersion rod; four empty plastic bottles of ammonium chloride; two plastic bottles of ammonium chloride (1kg each)  and one four wheeler (Bolero) bearing registration number MN07D-3311 silver in colour were also seized from the possession of Mujibur, reports said.

The police official said that the seized four-wheeler has a sticker of NHIDCL (National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited) and below written as ‘On Govt. Duty’ on the left side of the windshield.

On further examination, Mujibur disclosed to the police that the drugs were manufactured by him and one Md Hero of Thoubal Moijing is the distributor of the refined brown sugar and one Md Firoz of Yairipok Tulihal Toupokpi looks into the transportation of the raw materials. Following the disclosure by Mujibur, Md Firoz (19), son of Md Oli of Yairipok Tulihal Toupokpi was also arrested from his residence along with one smart phone at about 2.30 am same day, reports added

Brown Sugar Manufacturing Laboratory Busted

A combined team of Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB) Police Station along with Thoubal district police busted one clandestine brown sugar manufacturing laboratory at Thoubal Moijing Khongkok, Thoubal district and arrested one accused at around 11:10 pm on August 30.

Reports said the arrested person has been identified as one Mohammed Daulat Khan, 22, son of (Late) Md Allauddin of Thoubal Moijing Awang Leikai, Thoubal district.

During the operation three drum buckets, one of which contained approximately 50 litre of morphinated solution, one gas frame, one LPG gas cylinder, one wooden plank used in setting up the brown sugar laboratory were seized from Daulat Khan’s possession. On further verification, one mobile phone handset and two Aadhaar cards were also seized from him.

Jairam Ramesh Blames Manipur Govt

Senior Congress MP Jairam Ramesh on August 31 accused the BJP led state government of diverting urea to hill areas where poppies are grown for opium,  thereby creating shortage of the fertilisers.

The reaction of the senior Congress MP comes a day after Loumi Shinmee Apunba Lup (LOUSAL) demanded an inquiry into the alleged urea shortage confronting the farmers in the state.

“BJP’s Vikas in Manipur. Manipur is getting twice the supply of urea it needs and yet farmers complain of shortage! Why? Because urea is diverted to hill areas in Manipur, where poppy is being grown for opium in large areas in the last four years. The state govt is fully complicit in this,” tweeted the senior Congress MP on August 31.

The Congress MP opined that some of those involved in the activities attributing to shortage of urea are high-profile individuals including from the ruling party, reports said.

ATSUM on STDCM’s ST Status Demand

The All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM) has asked the Chief Minister of Manipur Nongthombam Biren to defuse the claim of the Schedule Tribe Demand Committee Manipur (STDCM) for recognition of Schedule Tribe (ST) status to the Meitei/Meetei people.

In a memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister on August 30 ATSUM stated that “the illogical claim” that the Meetei/ Meitei fulfils all the criterion to become an ST on the basis of race and prevalence of distinctive religion and culture is irrational on the ground that any community big or small, practices some form of religion and possesses a unique culture of their own.

Having religion or separate culture does not necessarily constitute the prime reason to include a particular community to be in the list of ST, the memorandum added.

ATSUM stated that the criteria followed for specification of a community as a scheduled tribe are indication of primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with community at large and backwardness, the memorandum added.

It is obvious that the plain people Meetei/Meitei were included in the general category of the people by the Centre due to the simple fact that they have superseded the component characteristic of a tribe, it added.

ATSUM claimed that in the course of a continuous process of civilization for over a period of 2000 years dating back from 33 AD, the Meeteis have abandoned/discarded their primitive cultural traits from being tribal to general, from rural or urbanization, economic backwardness to economically advance people in the valley of the golden kingdom (Sana Kunung), it stated.

Therefore, the points of arguments and the modalities for deciding claims for inclusion of the Meeties in the ST category involves rational philosophy to ascertain that the proposals are based on the broad criterion such as way of living, social custom and religious practices, dialect and educational and economic status.

The criterion of backwardness does remain as the main criterion, it further stated, while adding that the relative backwardness of a community as compared to the society at large and other communities in the areas has therefore to be judged.

Such data should be inter-alia; include the data on the representation of the community in the government/public sectors services, political institutions like parliament, state assemblies and local bodies, it added. Therefore, the Meetei/ Meitei people do not deserve to be categorised as ST under any circumstances, ATSUM claimed.  The Meeteis have been living at par with the rest of the privileged section of societies in all spheres of lives for the past 74 years of independence, the ATSUM said.

Railway Tunnel Naming Dispute
A dispute has arisen over the naming of Railway Tunnel No. 12 at Saheibung/Sangaithel

The S Saheibung Village Authority and Youth Club on August 31 condemned the media reports which allegedly claimed that the Railway Tunnel No 12 is in Sangaithel village, Imphal West and clarified that the actual location of the said tunnel is at S Saheibung village in Kangpokpi district.

While strongly condemning the reports as false and misleading, the S Saheibung VA and Youth Club pointed out it is pertinent to know that there is no existing or planned Railway Tunnel project at Sangaithel.

The release stated that the Union Minister of State for Railway Raosaheb Patil Danve on August 30 inspected railway tunnel drilling work at Tunnel No 12 at S Saheibung village in Kangpokpi district which is about 3 Kms away from Sangaithel village in Imphal West district.

“We the visit of the union minister at the village premise, it is rather surprising that the villagers were not even informed about the visit while it is more unfortunate that the name of the said tunnel has been reported as ‘Sangaithel Tunnel’ which is totally baseless and has no relevance,” the release stated.

Rather, the villagers of S Saheibung has apprised authorities concerned to name Tunnel No 12 as ‘Saheibung Tunnel’ since it passes through the village’s land which is justified, it stated.

E-Cart Waste Collection Vehicles Distributed
Waste collection e-carts distributed

Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren distributed E-cart waste collection vehicles to various Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) of the state at a solemn function organised by MAHUD department, Government of Manipur at City Convention Centre on August 31.

Altogether, 75 E-carts were provided to seven ULBs- Thoubal Municipal Council, Lilong (Thoubal) Municipal Council, Yairipok Municipal Council, Wangjing Lamding Municipal Council, Sikhong Sekmai Municipal Council, Andro Municipal Council and Heirok Municipal Council.

Chief Minister Biren stated that the government has taken up various measures to promote the use of electric vehicles to tackle global warming and climate change. He maintained that the e-vehicles are economically and environmentally advantageous as compared to conventional fuel powered vehicles.

The vehicles are procured under the project ‘Management of Solid Waste on Regional Basis (Cluster-B) in Manipur’ under NLCPR scheme funded by the Ministry of DoNER, Government of India. The total cost of the project is Rs 13.52 crore and MAHUD department is the implementing agency of the project, reports added.

6th Tribal Unity Day Observed

The 6th Tribal Unity Day was observed on August 31 at Martyrs Park located at Khuga Dam led by Joint Action Committee Against Anti Tribal Bills (JACAATB) chief convener H Mangchinkhup along with the family members of the martyrs with strict compliance of COVID-19 SOPs.

The day is observed every year after nine tribals lost their lives on August 31, 2015 in a violent protest against passing of three bills namely, Protection of Manipur People Bills 2015, Manipur Land Revenue and Reform (7th Amendment) Bill 2015 and Manipur Shops and Establishment (2nd Amendment) Bill 2015 in the Manipur Legislative Assembly. The Committee considered the bills are anti-tribal bills.

It may be mentioned that after the three bills were rejected by the President of India, a meeting was held at Mizo People ConventionChurachandpur office at Lamka where a nine-point agenda was set and the state government had assured JACAATB in compensating the families of nine deaths, helping the 48 injured and eight disabled people, building a martyrs park, set up Lamka district, among others.

10 Oxygen Concentrators for Kangpokpi

The InSIDE North East, a non-profit organisation from Saikul distributed 10 oxygen concentrators various health centres in Kangpokpi district through the district administration, Kangpokpi on August 31.

The oxygen concentrators were handed over by Kangpokpi DC, Somorjit Salam to the district hospital Kangpokpi, CHC Saikul, Kangpokpi Christian Hospital and COVID Care Centre Leikop during a programme held at DC office, Kangpokpi, reports said.

InSIDE NE director Hejang Misao said that when the people are suffering and dying owing to COVID-19, the organisation could not remain silent and eventually reached out to all the potential funders and donors. We could finally be connected with the Umeed Project and Crypto Relief India to reach out to more than 3,000 families in Manipur, especially the vulnerable families, he added.

Government Urged To Reopen Schools

The apex body of all recognised schools in the 16 districts of Manipur, the United Association of Recognised Schools of Manipur (UARSoM), in its executive meeting decided to urge the state government to formulate SOPs on the early reopening of schools as the state’s COVID-19 situation has improved.

UARSoM held its executive body meeting at Elite Higher Secondary School at Kangpokpi district Headquarters on September 2 in connection with the prolonged closure of schools and the New Education Policy following strict Covid-19 protocols.

In a press conference held after the meeting, President UARSoM L Joy said that they deliberated on the prolonged closure of schools, its impact upon the student community, and the way forward on reopening the schools, reports said.

“We have decided to urge the state government to formulate SOPs on the early reopening of schools, considering the Covid situation in the state and bring back normalcy in the education sector,” Joy added.

Meanwhile, the general secretary of the association Seikhojam Kipgen said that as the Covid situation has become dramatically low now, various states in the country have started reopening schools in their respective states. “As we also observed the Covid-19 situation in our state has almost come to normalcy, we consider it is time to reopen our schools which have been closed for a prolonged period, considering its impacts on children,” he added.

He continued that the prolonged closure of schools in the state has affected the students and their future are at stake now, while appealing to the state government to look into the matter and take immediate action in reopening of schools in the state, reports added.

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