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Manipur students’ union lifts blockade

Motorists queue up in front of a petrol pump in Imphal. File picture

Imphal, Feb. 17: Manipur got a respite from the scarcity of essential commodities during examination time with the All-Tribal Students Union Manipur lifting the one-day-old economic blockade along the state’s national highways from 8am tomorrow.

The students’ union had imposed the indefinite economic blockade since midnight last night, demanding acceleration of development activities in the hills by streamlining the functioning of government departments.

It agreed to end the blockade during a nearly three-hour meeting with chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh at the secretariat this afternoon.

“The students have agreed to lift the economic blockade from 8am tomorrow during a meeting with the chief minister this afternoon,” government spokesperson and education minister Moirangthem Okendro announced at a news conference this evening.

The minister added that the students’ union had agreed to end the blockade after the chief minister assured it that their demands and grievances would be considered by his government.

The 23-member delegation of the students’ union placed an eight-point charter of demands before the chief minister during the talks.

The main demands are converting Imphal regional centre of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University to a full-fledged university, devolution of power to the six autonomous district councils, decentralisation of power to the district administrations and framing of a proper reservation rule for the indigenous people.

The students union also demanded a separate director of education for the five hill districts of the state.

People were worried that if the blockade continued, there would be fuel scarcity, causing inconveniences to candidates of the higher secondary and matriculation examinations.

The higher secondary examination began today while the matriculation examination commences on Thursday.

Out of fears of fuel scarcity, people stood in long queues in front of petrol pumps throughout the state since yesterday.

Many of the fuel outlets in Imphal had to be shut down by early afternoon after their stocks ran dry.

Okendro appealed to the people not to worry about fuel.