This Article is From Jul 13, 2015

Manipur Government's Climbdown After Protests in Imphal

Imphal has been under curfew for the past four days.

Imphal: The Manipur government has withdrawn a bill introduced in the state Assembly this March, that was supposed to regulate the entry of outsiders into the state, but was rejected by protestors saying it had no teeth.

A Class 11 student died on Wednesday as protesting students clashed with the police. The protesting students were part of an organisation - the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System - which had been agitating for a tougher law regarding an Inner Line Permit regime, a rule to restrict the entry of outsiders - both Indians and foreigners into the state.

The government had passed a bill in March, called the Manipur Regulation of Tenants Act, but protesters say it has no teeth and that rather than regulating visitors it was protecting visitors.

The Manipur government's move may cool down tensions in Imphal, as the withdrawal of the bills was one of the main demands of the protestors. Curfew has been relaxed in Imphal for nine hours on Monday.

"Yes we have withdrawn the earlier bill... Also, I believe there should be a uniform law across the country. Now if Nagaland has an Inner Line Permit System, so either get them to withdraw it or the union Home Ministry should implement it for Manipur too," said Manipur's chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

It's been more than four days since Manipur's capital Imphal is under curfew. Some of the protesters, including school children, have defied the curfew and set tyres on fire and littered the road with stones. Kanishk, a Class 9 students who studies at a boarding school in Assam and is here for vacations, says there is nothing wrong in school students being part of protests, but agrees he doesn't totally understand the gravity of the issue. "Maybe some of us so it for the thrill of it, but a young boy died and I have a right to protest," he said.

At the home of Sapam Robinhood, who was killed, there is grief and anger, and an odd voice of dissent too. "I think it is not right to use such young children for political purposes," says a man, not willing to be named.

In the last few years, Manipur has seen large scale protests related to the Inner Line Permit issue. The protests have been more intense in Imphal, where unlike other areas of the state, outsiders can also buy land and settle down.