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Fest respite for Manipur

ILP forum announces strike relief for Id, Rathyatra

People offer namaz on the eve of Id in Guwahati on Friday. Picture by UB Photos

Imphal, July 17: Festivities have come as a balm to strike-hit Manipur, harmony and peaceful coexistence being the need of the hour.

The Joint Committee on Inner-Line Permit System today announced that there would be no general strike or bandh till Sunday to allow Muslim and Hindu communities to celebrate Id and Kang Chingba (Rathyatra) tomorrow, offering temporary respite to violence and curfew-weary residents.

The committee, however, appealed to the people to continue their democratic form of protest during the strike relaxation period in support of the ILP to put pressure on the Okram Ibobi Singh government to pass a bill within 15 days.

Though the Manipur Assembly resolved to withdraw Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill, 2015 on Wednesday and Ibobi Singh announced passing of a fresh bill within three months, the joint committee has not called off the agitation.

Manipur has been on the boil since last week with ILP supporters and police engaging in street clashes.

Violence was triggered by the death of Sapam Robinhood, a Class XI student, in police crackdown last week.

Despite imposition of curfew in the Greater Imphal area, the clashes continued with ILP supporters coming out on the streets defying curfew.

Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, triggering clashes and causing injuries to both sides. The curfew was relaxed for 13 hours beginning 5am today.

There was no report of any violence or protest during the curfew relaxation hours.

Devotees at the Kang Chingba festival in Imphal. File picture

All market places, including Imphal city, were opened and people resumed their normal duties. Peaceful sit-ins were held in various places.

However, schools and colleges are yet to reopen.

The respite coincided with chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh's initiative to finalise a fresh bill for protecting interest of the indigenous people of the state.

The joint committee has given his government 15 days to come up with a fresh bill and pass it.

Ibobi Singh today consulted legal experts. Yesterday, he had met representatives of political parties and senior editors separately.

Representatives of political parties recommended that the bill be passed within a month.

The BJP did not take part in yesterday's consultation. Party president Thounaojam Chaoba Singh today said his party would not be a part of the consultation exercise, saying it had lost faith in the Ibobi Singh government.

As the situation was coming back to normalcy, members of local clubs from various parts of Imphal today visited the parents of Robinhood at their Khurai home in Imphal East to show solidarity with the bereaved family.

The visitors assured the family that they would continue to support the ILP agitation until a fresh bill is passed.

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