Manipuris, mostly the young and the women who have been demanding the introduction of Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) in the state to regulate influx of outsiders, continued to stage sit-in demonstrations for the third day on Saturday by defying the curfew imposed in greater Imphal.
Unlike the protests on previous days, the situation in the trouble-torn state capital remained calm. But as authorities' relaxed curfew for five hours from 5am, thousands of people living under the curfew since Wednesday afternoon, came out to buy essential commodities, including vegetables, which were being sold at exorbitant prices, making the situation hectic.
ILPS is a travel permit introduced by British in 1873 for outsiders and is in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland in the northeast region.
Manipur has been witnessing widespread agitations under the initiative of Joint Committee on the ILPS which is demanding that the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants & Migrant Workers Bill, 2015, passed in the last assembly, be replaced with a new one to protect the interests of indigenous people and regulate influx of outsiders. They even called a 19-hour shutdown on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, a Class 12 student Sapam Robinhood, 16, of Imphal's Ananda Higher Secondary Academy was killed in police action during a protest march. The incident forced authorities to impose an indefinite curfew in the greater Imphal area from 4pm onwards besides closing down all the educational institutions.
Life has come to a grinding halt since then in Manipur, particularly in the state capital, as the curfew continues.
Considering the unrest in Imphal, the Manipur assembly discussed the ILPS issue with an active participation of both ruling and opposition members on the last two days of the budget session on Thursday and Friday.
On the concluding day, Manipur chief minister O Ibobi Singh assured the House of 60 members that the government is ready to hold talks with the agitating group.
"We cannot solve the issue without any talks. The government has no reservation in bringing out a new bill. There will be complete transparency," Singh had said.
The CM had also said that his government will lift the curfew and reopen educational institutions if the situation improves.