The situation in Manipur remained tense on Sunday, after mobile internet services were suspended across the state and prohibitory orders imposed in some areas in the wake of an indefinite “economic blockade” on two national highways called by an influential student’ body over more autonomy for the hill districts, officials said.
Vehicular movement and supplies from Assam have been hit due to the blockade on the Imphal-Dimapur highway (NH-2) and Imphal-Jiribam highway (NH-39) imposed by the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM).
An order issued by Special Secretary (Home) H Gyan Prakash late on Saturday said mobile internet services were suspended for five days, as some anti-social elements were using social media to “transmit hate speeches”.
The decision was taken after a vehicle was set ablaze by miscreants at Phougakchao Ikhang in Bishnupur district on Saturday evening, it said.
The incident has led to communal tension, the order added.
Hours later, another vehicle was also torched at Torbung-Bangla in the district by masked men, officials said.
Meanwhile, the district magistrates of Bishnupur and Churachandpur have imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC for a period of two months, beginning Saturday evening.
No further untoward incidents have been reported, the officials said.
The ATSUM has been pressing for tabling of the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council (Amendment) Bill 2021 in the monsoon session of the assembly for greater financial and administrative autonomy of the hill region in order to ensure development at par with the valley areas of the state.
Instead, the N Biren Singh-led BJP government of the state introduced the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council 6th and 7th Amendment Bills earlier in the week, which the protesters claimed was not in line with their demands.
The ATSUM was observing a total shutdown in the tribal-dominated Kangpokpi and Senapati since Tuesday, after the new amendments were introduced “unannounced”.
Schools, colleges, shops and business establishments were closed because of the shutdown, while passenger buses stayed off the roads. The strike ended on Friday morning, following which the “economic blockade” began, affecting supplies to the Meitei-dominated Imphal valley region, the officials said.
Police have arrested five student leaders of ATSUM for “conspiracy” to organise the protests.