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Tribal student leaders held in Manipur hours after minister tabled ADC bills in Assembly

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Manipur Tribal and Hills Affairs Minister Letpao Haokip on Tuesday introduced the Sixth and Seventh Amendments of the Manipur District Councils (Hill Areas) (Sixth Amendment) Bills, 2022 during the full budget session in Tuesday. during the Assembly of Manipur.

Interestingly, the introduction of bills was not on the House agenda on Tuesday. Moreover, it remains to be determined whether the bills introduced by the Minister of Tribal and Hill Affairs of Manipur are a replica of the ADC Bill recommended by the Hill Areas Committee, 2021.

The development comes following the arrest of several members of the Tribal Student Union of Manipur (ATSUM), the apex tribal student body, which called for a shutdown in the hill districts from Wednesday night at 6 p.m. on his request to introduce the ADC Bill 2021 recommended by the Hill Areas Committee in the Assembly.

A senior Manipur police officer said no less than five executive members of ATSUM have been arrested so far. Following the announcement of the closure, the Manipur Police launched a campaign of repression against the executive members of the ATSUM. Sources said former ATSUM leaders including John Pulamte, Ngachonmi Chamroy and Seth Shatsang were also arrested by police in the evening.

The ADC Bill, 2021 seeks greater autonomy for the Hill Areas Committee as well as Autonomous District Councils in the Amendment of Manipur District Councils (Hill Areas) Act, 1971.

ATSUM on Monday had announced a 24-hour total shutdown from 6 p.m. on August 3 to 6 p.m. on August 4 in the mountainous districts of Manipur. Following the arrests, ATSUM announced on Tuesday that it was bringing forward the closing to 6 p.m. and demanded the release of the arrested members. A total shutdown has started in Kangpokpi and Churachandpur districts. No untoward incidents have been reported up to the time of filing this report.

The Summit Tribal Student Corps in a statement said, “Expressing strong resentment against the state government’s nonchalant attitude towards the tribal peoples’ wish and desire to depose the Hill Areas Committee (HAC), recommended ‘The Manipur (Hill Areas) ADC Bill 2021’ during the current session of the Assembly and the deceptive act of outgoing HAC members in deviating from its previous position, ATSUM is compelled to call a total shutdown of 24 hours. The Tribal Student Corps at the Manipur Summit has said the total shutdown will be followed by “intense forms” of unrest from August 5.