Bandh organizers not yet amused by government assurances

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IMPHAL, September 24: The 48 hour bandh called in the different hill districts of Manipur as a protest regarding the Teachers Eligibility Test, TET forms and centre case disrupted normal life in the hills, but it was largely ineffective due to opposition by Kuki Students Organisation (KSO).

According to Chandel police, Chandel bazar remained closed and transportations were affected. Road linking Chakpikarong and Khambathem were blocked however no untoward incidents and loss of properties were reported. The road linking Chandel headquarters from NH 39 and Lamkang centre were also affected.

Sources said, Pallel area was not affected with shops opening and people were seen moving and doing their usual works.

Reports from Churachandpur also said some of the shops were opened and vehicles were seen transporting as usual.

However, reports from Tamenglong district indicated the bandh affected their lives with shops remaining closed and transportation were restricted. There is no report of any untoward incident or loss of properties in the district.

Newmai News Network adds: Normal activities in the hill districts of Tamenglong, Chandel, Ukhrul and parts of Senapati were disrupted today due to the 48-hour bandh imposed by the five influential tribal students` organisations since midnight of September 23 under the aegis of the Joint Committee of Hill District Students` Organisation (JCHDSO) in protest against the alleged apathetic attitude of the state government towards setting up of Teacher`s Eligibility Test (TET) form distribution centres as well as exam centres in all the hill district headquarters.

The students` bodies that have formed the Joint Committee of Hill District Students` Organisation (JCHDSO) are Zeliangrong Students` Union, Manipur (ZSUM), Senapati District Students` Association (SDSA), Churachandpur District Students` Union (CDSU), Naga Students` Union of Chandel (NSUC) and Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong (TKS).

However, due to the opposition of the bandh by Kuki Students` Organisation, General Headquarters (KSO-GHQs), the first day of the two-day bandh was not effective in Churachandpur districts and Sadar Hills ( in Senapati district).

Shops were seen opened in Kangpokpi bazar of Sadar Hills when a team of media toured today. From Motbung till Kangpokpi and beyond, the bandh impact was not felt.

However, ealier in the morning, confusion reigned as the stand of the Kuki Students Organisation was learnt by the public through the newspapers only this morning.

In Churachandpur too, the effect of the bandh was not felt though the Churachandpur District Students` Union (CDSU) was part of the JCHDSO.

Meanwhile, save for Churachandpur and Sadar Hills, inter-state and inter-district public and goods transports did not operate today. Business establishments downed their shutters. The percentage of government office staff was quite low today in the hill districts, except for Churachandpur.

The Kuki Students` Organisation had said yesterday that the 48-hour bandh would not be allowed to be enforced in the Kuki dominated areas as it was done without the knowledge of the Kuki students` body. The KSO`s contention was that since the state Education minister had given assurance to make the TET forms available in the hill districts at the earliest and examination centres from next year onwards, calling bandh is uncalled for move.

It is also worthwhile to note that the Kuki Students Organisation-General Headquarters (KSO-GHqs) had called off its proposed 48-hour Manipur bandh on September 18 following the assurance from the state government to avail the forms of Teacher`s Eligibility Test (TET) in the hill districts within two days` time.

The state government representatives in a meeting with the student leaders on September 18 had assured the latter that the TET forms would be made available in the hill districts from September 20 onwards.

According to Peter Mate, the examination of TET would also be held in the hill districts from next year onwards. “The state government has assured us this in written,” disclosed the KSO chief.

Education minister M Okendra, Principal Secretary in charge of Education Suresh Babu and tribal MLAs including Preshow Shimray, Z Kikhonbou Newmai, Alexander Pao, Victor Nunglung, G Varte and Memcha Kipgen and KSO leaders had participated in the September 18 meeting.

The KSO`s 48-hour Manipur bandh was to begin from 5 am of September 19 in protest against the non-issuing of TET forms in the hill districts.

On the other hand, on September 22, the Joint Committee of Hill District Student`s Organisations had stated that they would never in the future accept further assurances from the government saying the assurance given by the state Education minister to the five student bodies earlier regarding opening of TET form distribution centres and exam centres in the hill district headquarters had turned out be as “nothingness” because the minister has not yet taken up any step to implement the demand. They also said the Government lacks seriousness, particularly over tribal issues.

The Joint Committee had also stated that the state government had not taken the TET issue seriously and announced that from now onwards, the hill student bodies would never accept further assurances from the Government except fulfilling of demands with immediacy.

The government was not responding to the demand despite the assurance given to the student bodies in the earlier occasion and also the ultimatum served by the committee over the demand, the tribal student leader lamented.

These students` bodies had said the 48-hour strike was likely to be followed up by a serious of agitations in case the Government fails to initiate the right course of action so as to end the standoff.

TKS education secretary Ashung, who was also speaking at the press conference, warned any untoward incidents that may take place during the course of the shutdown in the five hill districts have to own up only by the state Government calling the demand a “serious matter” for the simple reason that they are demanding their rights.

“We are pushing for our rights to the Government. It is nothing if only the state Government works it out,” Ashung had asserted.

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