TODAY -
Three months now, schools and colleges still remain shut
Source: The Sangai Express / IANS

Imphal, December 10 2009: All educational institutions in India's restive northeastern State of Manipur have been shut for the past three months.

There have been no classes and students are on the brink of losing a vital academic session.

The indefinite closure of all schools and colleges that began exactly three months ago on September 9 was called by the All Manipur Students' Union (AMSU), demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh to protest against the alleged extra judicial killing of a youth in July.

Three months down the line, the Manipur Government has failed miserably to break the impasse and the AMSU has adopted a belligerent posture.

But, caught in between are thousands of students, who are at their wits end.

"It is unfortunate that the Government is not doing anything to break the dead-lock.

Students are at risk of losing an academic session as there have been no classes for exactly three months now," said Runu Devi, mother of two school-going children.

Angry parents are now blaming both the AMSU and the Government for jeopardising the future of thousands of students.

"In the first place, the AMSU should not have dragged the students to take part in an indefinite shutdown.

And it is also pathetic on the part of the Government to have failed to break the deadlock three months after the agitation was launched," said Moni Singh, a local businessman with two children.

Final examinations for Classes 1 to 10 are generally held end of November and Manipur's academic session begins in JanuaryFebruary.

"Not even half the course is completed and so there is no way annual examinations could be held," said Bimal Singh, a guardian.

Some schools tried resuming classes -- but protesters torched about a dozen educational institutions forcing the respective managements to once again shut down.

The Manipur Government is now trying to revise the academic calendar - annual exams would be held in February and the new session would begin in April.

Exams for classes 11 and 12 would be held in March as scheduled.

"Even this revised plan would have no meaning unless the teachers are able to complete the course.

What is the guarantee that educational institutions would resume classes now," asked an angry Bibha Devi, mother of three school students.

The AMSU and other groups led by the Apunba Lup, a conglomerate of civil society groups, spearheading an agitation since July seeking resignation of the Chief Minister for alleged extra judicial killings, are refusing to hold talks with the Government.

Manipur is becoming a lawless region with both State and non-State actors wreaking havoc -- militants pulling down hospitals, killing Government officials and Hindi-speakers, extorting money from temples, while fake encounter killings continue to rock the region.

Manipur is in turmoil since July 23 following an alleged fake encounter death of 27-year-old Chongkham Sanjit and a pregnant woman in the heart of State capital Imphal.

The immediate provocation for the string of protests was the publication of a set of photographs that punctured the security forces' claim that they had killed the youth following a gunfight.

The photographs clearly revealed that security forces took the youth, Chongkham Sanjit, inside a pharmacy in Imphal and then his dead body was brought out.

There are some 20 militant groups active in Manipur.

Their demands range from secession to greater autonomy.


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