At the time of breaking this news, there was no breakthrough in the round of talks between HAC Chairman and ATSUM. A leader, on the condition of anonymity, said that ATSUM is ready to lift the ongoing economic blockade and call off the ongoing agitations once the arrested leaders and members, who were sent to judicial custody are freed.
Hill Areas Committee (HAC) chairman Dipu Gangmei and its members and the Tribal Affairs and Hills Minister Letpao Haokip represented the state while ATSUM was represented by a team led by Vanlallian Khaute.
The marathon meeting was held since afternoon at the residence of the Minister at Koirengei in the wake of the escalating tension in the state and the ATSUM serving a deadline to the HAC to spell out its political stand over the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils (Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2022.
No concrete agreement was reached in the series of talks that lasted for several hours since afternoon and participated by All Naga Students’ Association of Manipur (ANSAM) and the Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO).
Sources said that release of arrested ATSUM leaders lifting of economic blockade and compensating the owners of vehicles that were burned down were the main agenda of the day’s meeting.
Interestingly, some of the ATSUM members were seen walking out when the second round of talks was held as there was reportedly a standoff over immediate release of the ATSUM leaders.
The TA & Hills Minister Letpao Haokip was seen trying to placate the situation to ensure that a positive outcome comes out of the meeting.
However, an ATSUM leader, on the condition of anonymity, said that ATSUM is also willing to study and compare the provisions of the HAC recommended ADC Bill, 2021 and the recently introduced Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils (Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2022.
Earlier, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal west have remanded five leaders of the All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM) to judicial custody on the charges of conspiring to impose economic blockade in the hill districts of the State.
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