Imphal, Oct. 20: An indefinite economic blockade on the Imphal-Jiribam highway has stopped supply trucks plying between Imphal and other parts of Assam via Silchar from today.
The Jiribam unit of the All-Manipur Students Union, Manipuri Students’ Federation, Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur and Kangleipak Students Association jointly called the blockade on National Highway 37 from midnight last night, demanding an improvement in the education scenario in Jiribam subdivision of Imphal East district.
The blockade has been called to protest the lack of teachers and infrastructure in Jiribam Higher Secondary School and other schools of the subdivision.
The groups are also protesting the transfer of 22 teachers, appointed under Sarva Shikshya Abhiyan, from Jiribam schools to Imphal recently.
“The state government has brought back five teachers to Jiribam Higher Secondary School. This is not enough. We demand that all the 22 teachers who were transferred to Imphal be brought back to Jiribam,” a spokesperson for the four students’ groups said over the phone.
Jiribam is the entry point to Manipur from Cachar district of Assam.
Because of its distance from the district headquarters of Imphal East, Porompat, it is deemed one of the least developed subdivisions in Manipur.
It is nearly 230km from Porompat.
The Imphal-Jiribam highway is the second lifeline of Manipur, on which nearly 100 supply trucks ply daily to bring in all kinds of supplies, including rice, cement, grocery items, fertilisers, medicines and vegetables.
Traders in Imphal predicted that an indefinite blockade on the second lifeline — the other being the Imphal-Dimapur highway — could trigger a price rise in Imphal.
Sources at Jiribam said several supply trucks bound for Imphal remained stranded since early morning.
The students’ organisations did not disrupt passen-ger services. However, they did not allow passengers to carry commercial items in buses or taxis.
Volunteers removed goods from passenger services bound for Imphal at Jiribam this morning. They also warned the truckers against violating the blockade.
A senior official at the education directorate here admitted that there was a shortage of teachers in most of the government schools in the subdivision. “We are trying to find a way to post a maximum number of teachers at Jiribam schools,” the official said.
The students’ groups said they were compelled to impose the blockade as the government had not heeded their pleas.