Saturday, September 30, 2023

General strike hits normal life in strife-torn Manipur


Scribes’ body condemns mistreatment of reporters

Police fired tear gas shells to scare away agitators blocking roads by stretching logs, setting fire and piling stones as a 48-hour general strike demanding release of five village defense volunteers arrested by police commenced on Tuesday.

All Langthabal Kendra Clubs Coordinating Committee announced the 48-hour state-wide total shutdown call, pressing the government to release the five village defense volunteers arrested by police on September 16.
Various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) imposed the 48-hour general strike across the state demanding unconditional release of five ‘village defense volunteers’. The strike commenced at midnight.
The police had claimed that the five persons in camouflage uniform currently in police custody were arrested with sophisticated weapons.

However, CSOs claimed that the five were village defense volunteers and demanded that they must be released without any conditions.
The CSOs earlier set a deadline to release the five detainees but the police did not release them even after the expiry of the deadline.

The agitating CSOs had also threatened to intensify their agitations if the five persons were not released even after the 48-hour total shut down. The shutdown is due to end by midnight of September 20.
The strike evoked a good response in the valley districts as people, particularly womenfolk and youths, came out on the street in their respective of areas and imposed road blockade from early morning.

All kinds of vehicles, except those in essential service sectors were off the roads. Inter-district, inter-state buses and trucks also suspended their services.
Markets, shops, business establishments, banks, government offices, educational institutions were closed in the valley districts of Bishnupur, Kakching, Thoubal, Imphal West and Imphal East.
Movement of Central and state security forces were hindered at many places as the agitators lit fire besides piling heavy logs and pipes and stones to block the roads. In their bid to clear the roads, the police fired tear gas shells and mock bombs.

However, no major untoward incident and injury were reported except a case of assault on a reporter and harassment to reporters covering the strike in some places in Imphal East and Imphal West district.
The assault of a reporter of a local TV cable network (ISCOM) was reported along NH-102 at Thongju in Imphal East district.
While imposing the road blockade, the protesters checked if private vehicles violating the strike to had a genuine reason.

Owing to this strict obstruction, work in government offices was also badly hit as most employees failed to report on duty.
At some main roads in the capital city and headquarters of other districts, strikers confronted the police assisted by RAF who fired tear gas shells and mock bombs in a bid to reopen the roads for normal vehicular movement.
Speaking to reporters, agitators imposing the road blockade said that there is no reason for the police to arrest the five volunteers as they volunteered to protect lives and properties of the people in the fringe area of valley districts.

She alleged that the people, particularly the youth, had to take up arms after the state and central security forces failed to protect the lives and properties of the people from the armed miscreants who descended from the hills and attacked them repeatedly since the violence erupted on May 3 last. Scribes’ body condemns mistreatment on reporters:

All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) on Tuesday condemned the mistreatment of reporters during the 48-hours total shutdown imposed by various CSOs.
The AMWJU, in a statement, alleged that reporters covering 48-hour total shutdown at Thongju Beni Leirak along NH-102 and other areas in Imphal East and Imphal West districts were mistreated by agitators enforcing the strike .

It is very unfortunate that reporters, who are working tirelessly to gather news, are being obstructed and physically assaulted by the strike supporters today, the statement said.
Despite AMWJU’s repeated appeals to refrain from obstructing reporters discharging their duty, the public continued the same, it observed.
It said that around 10.20 am today, strike supporters physically assaulted a reporter from local TV channel (ISCOM).

It said reporters were also subjected to humiliation through the use of inappropriate language in some parts of Imphal East and Imphal West districts
The AMWJU said it will no longer tolerate such ill-treatment towards the media persons in the future.
It further urged the general public to examine documents of any reporters and if the documents they produced were questionable then they may hand them over to the relevant authorities or to AMWJU officials.


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