Tribal students’ bodies have given a highway blockade twist to the Manipur University crisis.Three organisations have threatened to impose a five-day economic blockade on all national highways connecting State capital Imphal if the authorities concerned cannot let normal classes and other academic activities in Manipur University resume by October 8.Separate university These organisations have also demanded a separate Hill Central University to ensure that the tribal students have an alternative to the disruption-prone university in the non-tribal dominated Imphal Valley.The All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur, the Kuki Students’ Organisation-General Headquarters and the All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur, had on October 2 served a seven-day ultimatum to the University authorities to resume classes. The decision to go for a highway blockade was taken at their meeting on Thursday.Manipur depends on two arterial highways – one via Nagaland capital Kohima and the other via Jiribam on the Assam-Manipur border – for supply of essential commodities. A third highway through Mizoram is relatively less used.These highways pass through areas dominated by the Nagas and the Kuki-Zomi tribes, and blocking them has been a popular mode of protest against the allegedly partisan Manipur government.At their meeting on Thursday, the ATSUM, KSO-GHQ and ANSAM said they were “anguished by the premeditated holding of the career of students to ransom because of the agenda of a few individuals with vested interests in Manipur University”.‘Facing hardships’The three organisations said that tribal students face hardship every year. “We want a Hill Central University so that all the colleges in the hill districts can be affiliated to it and be assured of ideal academic atmosphere,” a joint statement said.The tribal students have stayed away from the agitation by organisations of Manipur University’s students, teachers and staff since July against alleged financial and administrative irregularities by Vice-Chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey. The Ministry of Human Resources Development had made him go on leave till a two-member probe committee submits a report on the allegations against him, but the university continues to burn. On September 20 midnight, police and paramilitary forces raided the campus and rounded up 89 students and six teachers for allegedly manhandling Pro-Vice-Chancellor K. Yugindro. Based on his FIR that the students and teachers had tried to kill him, the police arrested nine students and six teachers.