Manipur hit by protests against merger with India

Manipur hit by protests against merger with India
Imphal streets during anti-merger agreement general strike call given by an armed outfit on Saturday. (NP)
Correspondent IMPHAL, Sep 21 | Publish Date: 9/21/2019 11:05:05 AM IST

Manipur government ordered deduction of one-day salary of its employees who were absent from office on Saturday, the day on which an armed outfit gave a 24-hour general strike in protest against the alleged ‘forceful’ merger of Manipur to Indian Union.

National Revolutionary Front Manipur (NRFM) imposed the strike to register a protest against forced merger of the then kingdom of Manipur into Indian Union in 1949.

The strike commenced from Friday midnight hit normal life in the state, particularly in Imphal, and other parts of the valley districts.

Owing to the shutdown, business establishments in important market places in Imphal city and its outskirt remained closed for the day. 

Oil pumps downed their shutters. A sharp reduction in the traffic volume was witnessed across the streets in Imphal where even computerised traffic signals were not operational for the day.

Non-operation of the computerised traffic signals meant a sharp reduction in the traffic volume.

Government offices also had thin attendance. Even in the state secretariat, the backbone of government administration, a total of 223 employees were found absent without any leave or any valid reason.

An official source in the general administration department (GAD) said that as many as 223 employees were found absent during a surprise inspection on Saturday.

An order of the department has granted “extra ordinary leave without pay to the said 223 employees who were found absent and state chief secretary Dr J Suresh Babu has ordered the concerned DDO of the GAD to deduct salary for one day from these absent employees, the source said.

The general strike evoked similar situation in other valley districts of the state even though there was much impact was given in the hill districts except non-arrival of inter-district buses from Imphal to the district headquarters

Inter-state passenger buses and goods trucks were also off the roads. The shutdown, however, did not affect regular flights. 

While giving a call for  the shutdown , the NRFM alleged that Delhi has ruined the indigenous people’s identity during nearly seven decades of oppressive rule.

NRFM further alleged that the armed conflict between Manipur and India was also the by-product of the ‘forceful’ merger of Manipur with the Union of India.

No untoward incident was reported from any part of the state during the strike which would end on Saturday.

Amidst the general strike, various civil society organisations organised discussions on the merger agreement and pros and cons of the state of Manipur under the Indian Union.

Against the expectation of all round development in Manipur after merger to Indian Union, even right of life of people of the then independent kingdom have been put at stake, leaders of CSOs observed in one of the discussion programmes hosted jointly by United People’s Front (UPF) Manipur and Apunba Manipur Kanba Lup (AMKIL) in Imphal’s Lamyanba Shanglen.

UPF president W Seken who initiated the discussion observed a grim future of Manipur under the Indian Union while asserting that even Manipuri civilization was on the verge of extinction under the Indian Union.

“As Manipur we see today is not what the people had expected after merger to the Indian Union,” he said and added that instead of getting the light of development, Manipur is behind in all front. Even the right to life of the people of the state has been violated by enforcing various draconian laws over the people of the state since the state is under the Indian Union, he alleged.

A big challenge of losing their identity, culture etc. was faced by the ethnic communities of the state besides the biggest challenge to the territorial integrity of Manipur, he said.

He alleged that India government has been applying its various secret agendas to eliminate the indigenous people of the state above its habitual divide and rule policy that has greatly affected the age old harmonious living among different communities of the state.

AMKIL president Ph Sakhi Devi reminded how the then kingdom of Manipur was forcibly merged to Indian Union and alleged that mainland Indians never treated the people of the region as Indian citizens.

The clear example was the draconian laws being in forced in the state and terrorising the people under the laws in the name of combating the armed struggle.

If Indian leaders considered Manipur a part of India, they would have scrap the draconian laws like Armed Forces (Special) Power Act (AFSPA) heeding the voice of the people of the state.

Even Member of Parliament from Manipur had repeatedly raised their voice against the black laws in the Parliament. However no positive action to repeal the acts was still taken up by India government, she alleged.

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