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Three-day bandh in Manipur hill dists

 IMPHAL, April 29 – A three-day bandh has been called in the hill districts of Manipur by a local committee from tomorrow night in protest against the government’s proposal to hold elections to autonomous district councils – a move that has thrown up a sharp division between various ethnic groups.

 In a statement here today, the Manipur Tribal Joint Action Committee (JAC) against election under unwanted district council Act said they would oppose the proposed elections at any cost since not enough monetary power was given to the district councils. The statement also asked the tribal MLAs and ministers to resign from their respective posts without further delay.

Official sources said notification for the first phase elections to three autonomous district councils of Sadar Hills, Chandel and Churachandpur was issued on April 26 and the last date for filing nomination papers was fixed on May 3.

Sources, however, denied the charges levelled against the government by some hill-based organisations and pointed out that enough monetary power was given to the district councils.

Reports from the hill districts said the Manipur Hills were sharply divided over the issue of elections.

While some districts, particularly Kuki-Chin-Mizo group-settled areas, wanted to hold elections, Naga-inhabited areas were opposed to it.

Sources said notification for the second phase elections to Naga-settled areas of Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Senapati would soon be issued.

The All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM) supported by United Naga Council (UNC) had launched indefinite national highway blockade a week ago causing inconvenience to the people in the State, reports said.

ANSAM and UNC had said they would do their best to oppose the elections.

Reports said the two national highways – Imphal-Dimapur No 39 and Imphal-Jiribam No 53 – are the main ‘life lines’ for land-locked Manipur.

Various social organisations have appealed to the ANSAM and UNC to call off the blockade and launch other agitations which would not affect the general population. – PTI

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