Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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Youths Protest Apathy Towards Poor, Journalists Resume Work, Nupi Keithels Reopen and Tarao Tribe Appeals for Measures against Extinction

Spiralling prices of essential commodities has severely affected the poor during the Covid-19 lockdown, according to state youths who protested this week against the apathy towards the poor, even as journalists returned to the news desks after a one-week strike over a bomb threat at a vernacular daily in Imphal. Also the Nupi markets at Khwairamband reopened during the week after a Covid-19 lockdown lasting 11 months, and the Tarao tribe conference has appealed to the government to intervene in saving the tribe, which now numbers less than 900 members, from extinction.

Youths Protest Price Hike

Several young people in Manipur took to the streets in Imphal this week in protest against hike in prices of essential commodities in the state and demanded urgent intervention by the government, saying price hike is killing the poor. They also submitted a memorandum to Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla, with a demand to address the plight of the poor in the state.

The protesters included members of the Youth Forum for Protection of Human Rights, Youth Action Committee for Protection of Indigenous People, Young People for Social Reform, Khangabok Development and Students’ Union, Chandonpokpi Youth Forum and the Sunushiphai Youth Welfare Association, added reports.

Reports quoting Youth Forum for Protection of Human Rights, Secretary, T Shadishkanta said that since the economic activities in the state were halted due to the COVID-19 lockdown that began in March 2020, the majority of the masses have been struggling to meet their daily needs. The steps taken up by the Government of India to increase the prices of essential commodities to recover the loss to the economy from the poor section of people is unfortunate and is a violation of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, he said.

Manipur Journalists Resume Work

Newspapers came back on the stands and Cable and TV channels resumed broadcasts from February 19 after a cease-work strike from the evening of February 13 to protest the hurling of a hand grenade at the entrance of building housing vernacular daily Poknapham and English daily The People’s Chronicle at Keishampat, Imphal. The  bomb failed to explode.

The All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) and the Editors’ Guild Manipur (EGM), in a joint meeting on February 18, resolved for all media staff to resume normal duties from February 19.

Reports said CCTV footage showed a hand grenade being lobbed by an unidentified woman in a white two-wheeler. The woman is suspected to be a member of a valley-based proscribed organisation.

The Manipur Police has announced a cash reward to any individual providing information which could lead to the arrest of the person involved in the grenade attack.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren has assured security cover to all media houses in the state in the wake of the attack.

The chief minister gave the assurance during a meeting with representatives of the Editors Guild Manipur (EGM) and the All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU).

The chief minister also said a four-member special investigation team (SIT) probe has been ordered into the attack.

The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) has strongly condemned the grenade attack expressing solidarity with journalists in Manipur, reports added.

Meanwhile, the Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has registered a suo-moto case and directed the Chief Secretary, DGP, Special Secretary (Home), and Superintendent of Police, Imphal West to submit the status report of the investigation by February 25, reports added.

Nupi Keithel Reopens after 11 Months

The Nupi Keithel at Khwairamband in the heart of Imphal city is back to normal business since February 15.

Reports said Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren announced the reopening of the three women’s markets at a function attended by a huge gathering of women vendors.

It may be mentioned that the three markets with about 4,000 licensed women vendors were ordered closed by the government since March 21 as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19 in the state even before any COVID-19 case was identified in the state. In May 2020, as lockdown persisted with COVID-19 spread in the state, the women vendors in Imphal had little choice but to take back their products stored in the markets.

Conference to Save Tarao Tribe

The Theemjih Teen Tarao Ruulkhak (Tarao Students’ Union) organised a five-day 5th General Conference at Khuringmul village, Chandel district, starting February 18 based on the theme “Reasoning the Identity”.

Reports said the students union on behalf of Tarao, one of the smallest tribes in Manipur facing extinction, has appealed to the state government for specific strategy and plan for the promotion and upliftment of the community.

The current population of the Tarao tribe has reportedly dropped below the endangered level of 900. According to the 2011 Census, their population was recorded at 1,066 and the UNESCO Online Atlas report of 2009 mentioned Tarao language as an extinct language.

“The general conference was organised not for entertainment purpose but to reason out the urgent need for promotion and preservation of Tarao tribe based on the identity and culture,” Tarao Students’ Union vice-president L Sabastian said while speaking to the media on the sidelines of the function.

Asserting that the current population of the Tarao tribe is below 900, which is at the endangered level, he said that the Tarao people strongly believe that the government will take necessary measures to promote and uplift the tribe.

Teachers Intensify 7th Pay Protests

College teachers in Manipur under the banner of Federation of Government College Teachers’ Associations (FEGOCTA) have intensified their agitation by boycotting classes and stopping all academic and administrative activities of all the government colleges of Manipur demanding 7th pay.

Reports said the FEGOCTA has intensified their agitation due to the failure of the state government to implement the UGC 7th Pay and Regulations, 2018 for college teachers in spite of several ultimatums and memorandums served to the state government by the federation.

The FEGOCTA said the government has discriminated against college teachers of Manipur as the 7th Pay has been implemented for all other government employees of the state and college teachers in other states of India, reports added.

8 Policemen Summoned

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal West has summoned eight Manipur police personnel in an alleged fake encounter case in which 12-year-old Md Azad Khan of Phoubakchao Makha Leikai was killed in 2009.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had submitted the charge sheet against the eight police personnel on December 29, 2020.

The eight policemen are Havildar Bronson Thanga Chiru, Rifleman Ksh Rama Singh, Rifleman Ksh Rama Singh, Havildar Phuritsabam Suresh Meetei, Rifleman Thangjapao Touthang, Rifleman K Rabichandra Singh, Rifleman Ng Tronil James, and Rifleman M Budhichandra Singh.

CSOs Condemn Moreh Bomb Blast

Several civil and voluntary organisations have strongly condemned a bomb blast in Moreh and demanded immediate probe into the incident and arrest of the culprits.

Reports said that the CSOs included the Hill Tribal Council (HTC) Moreh, Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO) Moreh Block, Kuki Women’s Union and Human Rights (KWU and HR) Moreh and Moreh Youth Club (MYC).

The bomb blast occurred at Canan Veng Moreh Ward No. 7.

In a joint statement, the CVOs stated that a series of bomb blasts have been taking place in the state since 2019 despite strict security measures. Fortunately, there were only minor damages to fencings in the blast.

Two UGs Arrested

Two cadres of proscribed armed groups were apprehended by a joint team of Churachandpur Battalion Assam Rifles, Kadamtala Battalion Assam Rifles and Jiribam police.

Reports said that one of the cadres is a member of the PLA, identified as Langpolakpm Manaobi alias Tiken, resident of Champanagar village, Jiribam district. The other UG cadre is a member of UNLF, identified as Khaidem Tomba Singh alias Manglemba alias Jiringaka, resident of Kalinagar village, Jiribam district.

AR Foils Ccpur Narcotic Trafficking

In pursuit of the campaign against drug smuggling in Manipur, troops of Assam Rifles has foiled a narcotic smuggling attempt in Tuibong area of Churachandpur.

Reports said acting on specific information regarding smuggling of narcotics, a suspected Maruti 800 car was intercepted by troops of Aina Battalion of Assam Rifles. On being flagged down, the car driver tried to flee but was captured after a short chase. Four soap cases containing heroin weighing 39.26 grams worth Rs. 15.7 lakh were recovered from the driver.

AR Recovers Illegal Timber

Tengnoupal Battalion under the aegis of HQ IGAR (South), has recovered logs near Tengnoupal being smuggled in two trucks.

Reports said the logs were being transported in two trucks which were intercepted near BP 81. A total of 14 logs measuring approximately 16 cubic meters were recovered and the drivers of the trucks, identified as Yumnam Jamini Singh and Shadokpam Sundar Singh, both residents of Thoubal, were apprehended.

AR Medical Camp at Lilong

Keithelmanbi Battalion of 9 Sector Assam Rifles under the aegis of IGAR(S) organised a medical camp at Lilong in Thoubal district this week.

Reports said medical camps are organised regularly by Assam Rifles to cater to medical needs of people from remote villages of the north eastern states where medical facilities are not available. The aim of the camp was to provide free health check-up, primary medical consultation, advance prescription and medicines, apart from medical attention, education on health, hygiene, sanitation and awareness on Coronavirus.

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