IMPHAL, Apr 9: Peeved over the alleged lackadaisical attitude of the State Government in resolving the issues of the tribal people of Manipur in general and those raised by ATSUM in particular, the student body has called for a 12 hours ‘protest’ on May 1 from 6 am to 6 pm. This would be followed by a 120 hour economic blockade, conveyed an ATSUM release.
It appealed to all the tribal people living in both the hills and valley to cease work and to stay at home on May 1.
From the next day onwards, ATSUM will put transportation of all commodities on hold along all the National Highways of the State.
The main issues over which ATSUM has planned to launch protest agitation include the Manipur Autonomous District Council, Manipur University, shortage of teachers and forest management.
On Manipur Autonomous District Council, ATSUM asked the State Government why it took so long to come out with the Bill only to be postponed and withdrawn finally.
Taking strong exception to the manner in which the Speaker referred the Bill to the Expert Committee after it was approved by the Hill Areas Committee, the student body maintained that the Government owes an explanation to the tribal people for taking them for a ride and also stated its position vis-a-vis the Autonomous District Council issue.
The problem of tribal students in Manipur Univer- sity is far from being resolved. Taking a Ministerial team along with tribal students representatives to the Prime Minister is not the solution, ATSUM asserted.
If the State Government is serious enough to resolve the impasse, it should boldly ask for ‘State University’ in place of the existing Central University as the latter despite it many advantages is not helping the tribal peoples in any way, ATSUM alleged. Even as the State Government recruited 1332 teachers on contract basis in 2005 to make up for shortage of teachers in hill areas, their service was terminated with the excuse that regular teachers have already been provided. But in reality, only 306 Science and Arts graduate teachers were provided in the hill districts to replace those 1332 teachers of all grades––Graduate, Matriculate and Hindi teachers, contended ATSUM while asking the State Government if it has any plan to address the issue. Saying that the issue raised by the Working Group on Land and Natural Resources (WGLNR) and student bodies particularly in Ukhrul district on Joint Forest Management and other forest related issues are genuine and are in the interest of the tribal peoples of Manipur, it sought immediate attention of the Forest Department to address the problem. A consultation meeting on all these issues will be held on April 15 at District Council House, Chingmeirong, Imphal. The meeting would also deliberate on the line of action proposed by the ATSUM, added the release.