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Driver hurt in stoning, ATSUM suspends economic blockade

IMPHAL, May 17: A driver was hurt while the windshields of at least 20 trucks including oil tankers and LPG laden trucks were broken when suspected supporters of the ATSUM economic blockade stoned them while they were crossing Kangpokpi area along the Imphal-Mao section of the NH-39 with security escorts late yesterday night at around 9 pm, official reports said today.
The tanker driver who sustained injuries at the head was hospitalized in an unconscious state at a hospital in Kangpokpi, the reports said. In the meantime, the All Manipur Tribal Students Union, Manipur has called off the economic blockade with immediate effect after an agreement was reached with the state government today.
Reports said that around 80 goods trucks including oil tankers and LPG laden vehicles, which were stranded at Mao gate due to the ATSUM economic blockade, proceeded for Imphal with heavy security escorts late yesterday evening.
The goods vehicles reached Kangpokpi at around 9 pm. However, when some vehicles started crossing Kangpokpi area, suspected blockade supporters started attacking the vehicles with stones.
As a consequence the wind shields of as many as 20 vehicles were shattered and a driver who was hit on the head by a stone fell unconscious. He was at once brought up to a nearby hospital and is lying unconscious there, another oil tanker driver said.
Despite heavy stoning, the security personnel from the Manipur Rifles did nothing, the drivers alleged asking whether they were sent only to witness the incident and not for the protection of the truckers.
Mention may be made that the ATSUM imposed the economic blockade on NH-39 and NH-53 passing through the state since May 2. The same was called for only 120 hours at first, but was later extended till 6 am of May 17.
Representatives of the striking students body called on the chief minister yesterday at the latter’s bungalow but the meeting could not reach any agreement and it was decided to meet again today before the state chief minister left Imphal for New Delhi.
Later today, the ATSUM in a statement announced its decision to suspend the economic blockade stating that the state government had given them a "time bound commitment" on the four issues raised by them related to the Autonomous District Councils, reservation in the Manipur University, teacher shortage and joint forest management.
The ATSUM said it deeply regretted the inconvenience caused to the public during the agitation. “It is in the interest of the public that the economic blockade is lifted and not because of any satisfaction with the government commitment to the tribal people,” it said.
It also expressed hope that the government would fulfill its commitments and not lead the ASTUM on the path of future agitation.
(Courtesy: IFP)


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