Imphal: Four separate general strikes paralysed normal life in Manipur on Friday.
The Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) imposed a 42-hour public curfew from Thursday midnight demanding assent to three bills passed by the Manipur legislative assembly in 2015 aimed at checking inflow of migrant workers.
A 48-hour general strike has already been imposed by the Singjamei Joint Action Committee (JAC) which is pressing for its demand for justice for Sagolshem Prasanta who was found “hanging” on April 26 at Lilong.
Another JAC formed by the Muslims at Lilong also imposed a general strike demanding justice in the suspected murder.
Besides, there has been a 48-hour blockade of the National Highway No. 37 in protest the killing of a tribal youth in a hit-and-run case.
However, reports received from the five hill districts dominated by the tribals say that there was a little impact of the four strikes.
All educational institutes, shops and business establishments, and other facilities remained closed in the four valley districts. Though the government offices were open, the attendance was almost nil. Most of the doctors and paramedics in the government and private hospitals abstained from work.
High officials said that in any case patients cannot come to the hospitals as there is no transport facility.
Deven Laishram, director of J.N. Institute of Medical Sciences said, “Doctors and paramedics should not be prevented from coming to office. In the past, even ambulances were damaged and doctors prevented from attending the offices”.
JCILPS convener Khomdram Ratan said, “Our volunteers were instructed not to obstruct reporters, doctors and others in essential services including those persons who are going for religious functions”.
Dozens of youths were seen coming out in the streets to enforce the general strike and public curfew. Tyres and logs were burnt on the streets to prevent vehicles from plying. The Imphal city also wore a deserted look and even street vendors were not seen. Though police patrolled several areas, there was no report of any arrest.
JCILPS had asked the political parties in Manipur to make their stands clear on the demand for the implementation of the Inner Line Permit system, under which non-Manipuris need a special permit to enter the state. Most of the political parties which matter in the state politics have clarified their stands.
Deputy Chief Minister and former state unit Congress president Gaikhangam said his party has done what is expected of it. He felt that the chief minister may, if the situation so warrants, lead an all political parties’ delegation to New Delhi to pressurize the Centre for giving assent to the three anti-migrant Bills passed in the stated assembly on August 31.
He also added that the state BJP has a big role to play in this regard. Other opposition parties like the Communist Party of India, Manipur People’s Party, the Janata Dal-United, Trinamool Congress have said that they support the demands of JCILPS.
The agitations supporting and opposing the ILP system have claimed ten lives and left over 600 persons injured during the protracted agitations.
The President and the governor are hesitant to give their assent to the three bills in view of the explosive situation and polarization of the tribals and non-tribals on the issue.
The agitation will have a direct bearing on the June 2 municipal elections since there are growing demands to disenfranchise non-Manipuris.