Imphal, November 19: There has been no response from civil society organisations to the invitation from Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren for negotiations on a collective effort “to protect Manipur’s interests”. Manipur has been reeling under burgeoning protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the pending Naga agreement.
Biren said on Tuesday that he was ready to hold talks at any time with civil society groups. The COCOMI (Coordination Committee on Manipur Integrity) formed by five groups did not respond to his invitation. It had been announced earlier that the leaders would not hold talks with the CM since he had refused to summon a special session of the Manipur Assembly to discuss threadbare the Naga agreement and its likely impact on Manipur.
Biren said, “We are assuring that Manipur will not be affected by this Bill. Something is wrong if it is made out that only they [the Opposition] are patriots. There is a need for a counter-move.”
‘Refused the meet’
T. Mangibabu, vice president, Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee, said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Home Minister Amit Shah have refused to meet and talk with CLP (Congress Legislature Party) members from Manipur.” MLAs led by CLP leader and former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi have been camping in Delhi to meet national leaders on the Naga agreement. “As the team members are MLAs from Manipur, by now the two leaders should have met them,” he added.
Communist Party of India (CPI) state secretary L. Sotinkumar said, “The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) Manipur claimed that, at the behest of Biren, the Citizenship Bill was not introduced in the Parliament in the previous session. Biren was garlanded at the airport by the BJP workers. And now he is refusing to speak to the Central leaders on the issue. This may be because of the fact that leadership may be wrested from him.”
Meanwhile, throwing the gauntlet to the government, students and a majority of the employees did not leave their homes. Chief Secretary J. Suresh Babu had issued an order on Monday evening asking employees to attend offices and students classes.
The Imphal Municipal Corporation also asked women vendors, who exclusively conduct the three markets in the Imphal city, and all shopkeepers, to open their shops. However, all women vendors launched a sit-in protest, and shops were closed over an 18-hour lock-down. Such protests were also reported from other markets in the State. Banks and financial institutions were also closed. No public transport plied and all long-running and inter-State buses and trucks were off the roads.
Police sources said that there was no report of any untoward incident. The lockdown ended at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. However, police stations are on alert since many forms of protests, most commonly torch-lit night processions, are taking place daily.
(Courtesy: The Hindu)