Hundreds of women vendors from the four women’s markets in the Imphal city, who staged a sit-in protest in the main market complex from Saturday morning, have refused to return home.
The activists said that they shall stay in the market complex until Wednesday when it is expected that the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will be passed by the Rajya sabha. The Lok Sabha has already passed it.
This has become a headache for the police and paramilitary personnel maintaining law and order in the city areas. There are problems in procuring potable water, and even toilets and bathrooms do not have running water. Inakkhunbi, a vendor, said: “We buy bottled water since there is no water supply.”
The initial plan was to stage a routine sit-in by the women vendors. “But we decided to stay in the market complex till Wednesday since the Central government is firm on passing the Bill,” said a woman vendor.
Several women vendors participating in the sit-in protest said that they are facing the chilly nights without sufficient warm cloths. Health officials fear that some of them could take ill if they stay in the wintry nights for some more nights.
The activists said that the government should give a written assurance to the effect that the Bill shall not affect the northeastern region in general and Manipur in particular.
Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren said that his government is against the bill if a clause is not inserted to safeguard the people. On Saturday Biren said: “The government shall continue to oppose the bill unless a clause is inserted.”
Opposition Congress has been demanding a special session of the Assembly to take a resolution in this regard. MLA and state unit Congress president Gaikhangam said: “The BJP-led coalition government has been refusing to summon a special session though some other NE states had taken a firm stand on the issue”.
There have been numerous daily protests in other parts of the state. Effigies of Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh are also burned here and there.
Meanwhile, the People’s Alliance Manipur formed by 131 civil society organisations is calling a total shutdown from 5 a.m on Monday till 5 p.m on Tuesday in protest against the citizenship bill.