IMPHAL, Aug 8 : Peeved over the failure of the State Government to give a positive response to its demands inspite of launching a black badge agitation by students of class IX to University level since August 4, All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur (ATSUM) has delcared its decision to go ahead with the proposed 48-hour State wide general strike with effect from midnight of August 11. The apex body of the tribal students in the State has also rejected the Government’s offer to hold talks. Talking to mediapersons in this connection at Elite higher Secondary School at Kangpokpi today, general secretary of ATSUM Taishya said that in case the Government does not listen even after the general strike, then indefinite blockade would be imposed along the two National Highways of the State with effect from midnight of August 13. Along with objecting to only the provision of 7.5 percent tribal quota in Manipur University, the apex body of the tribal students in the State has been demanding the State Government to appoint the required teachers in the schools located in the hill districts, extend the service of school teachers appointed on contract basis in the hills and revoke order cancelling grant-in-aid of aided schools. Taishya informed that educational institutions, medical, essential services and other religious functions would be exempted from the purview of the general strike which would come into effect from midnight of August 11 to midnight of August 13. He explained that ATSUM was earlier preparing to call the general strike for 96 hours but it has been shortened to only 48 hours in consideration of the problems likely to be faced by the people of the State. He further informed that the restriction imposed on the ZEO offices would be relaxed on August 17 in view of the National Talent Search Examination, 2008 slated to be held on August 17. The president of KSO Sadar Hills L Sitlhou who was also present at the occasion pointed out that students in the hill districts have not yet been getting their due rights pertaining to basic educational infrastructure. As there is no adequate infrastructure for education in the hill districts, even the poor parents do not like to send their children to these schools nor could they afford to educate their children in private schools.
However, rich parents have been sending their children to private schools. This is one of the main reason why the enrolment of students in the Government schools in the hill districts has been declining steadily. In order to attract the students, the Government should improve the educational infrastructures in the Government schools, he noted.
Sitlhou further announced that as part of the ongoing agitation, the office of the ZEO Kangpokpi has been shut down since August 4.
There is no need for the office of ZEO as the basic infrastructures required for education could not be ensured in the schools of the hill district, he added.
Meanwhile, when contacted spokesman of ATSUM Joseph Hmar said ‘the Government has send feelers to us for holding talks but we flatly rejected it because we don’t want any further talks as nothing came out from such talks held earlier’.
Hmar stated categorically, ‘Now, we only want to obtain the orders for extension of service of contract basis teachers, revocation of the earlier order cancelling grant-in-aid schools and implementation of the Cabinet decision to enhance the ST quota to 31 percent in Manipur University’.
Disclosing other scheduled stir plans, he further informed that besides boycotting Independence Day by tribal students, ATSUM would also close down all educational institutions in the hills from August 18 to 23 during which all Government offices in the hills would also be picketed. From August 25, all Government Schools in the hills would be closed down indefinitely until and unless adequate teachers are provided along with the required infrastructures.
On August 30, tribal students from Manipur studying in Delhi will take out a protest rally against the State Government’s failure to resolve the issue of the tribal students in Manipur, the spokesman added.