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Manipur: Tribals protest against killings, demanding reimposition of AFSPA

Thousands of tribal women on Saturday organised massive demonstrations in different districts of Manipur specially in Kangpokpi district

Published Date – 08:20 PM, Sat – 19 August 23


Manipur: Tribals protest against killings, demanding reimposition of AFSPA

Photo: IANS

Imphal: Thousands of tribal women on Saturday organised massive demonstrations in different districts of Manipur specially in Kangpokpi district to protest the killing of three Village Defence Volunteers (VDV) belonging to Kuki tribals in Ukhrul district on Friday.

Due to the protests movement of vehicles along the National Highway-2 (Imphal-Dimapur), the surface lifeline of Manipur, remained disrupted for the entire day. The protesters said that the three VDV were killed by the rival community barely two days after Chief Minister N. Biren Singh in his Independence Day speech called for ‘forgive and forget’ and to live peacefully.

The protests were organised by the Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU), which also submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding to re-impose Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) in all six valley districts inhabited by the non-tribals Meiteis. “If the AFSPA reimposed in the valley districts, then the Army and Para military forces would be able to contain the violence in these areas,” said the memorandum, submitted through the Deputy Commissioner of Kangpokpi district.

CoTU media cell coordinator Lun Kipgen said that as the Center was not imposing President’s rule in Manipur, the government must re-impose AFSPA in the valley districts and redeployment of the Assam Rifles in those tribal areas from where they were withdrawn. Right activist Irom Sharmila held a hunger strike for 16 long years demanding to repeal the AFSPA after 10 people were killed by the para-military forces at a bus stop at Malom Makha Leikai in Manipur’s Imphal West District in November 2000.

The CoTU in its memorandum expressed discontentment against the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah’s statement in the Lok Sabha recently. “The Kuki-Zo people have been deeply hurt by the irresponsible statement made by the Union Home Minister on August 9 stating that the ethnic violence is caused by the influx of illegal immigrants from Myanmar. He also named a non-existing outfit called Kuki Democratic Front based in Myanmar for causing violence in the state.

Such irresponsible statement of the Union Home Minister has deepened the wounds of the Kuki-Zo people who are the victims of the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the majority Meitei community. The tribal body also demanded to revoke FIRs against academics and intellectuals.

“The COTU is saddened to learn that a series of FIRs have been registered against academics and intellectuals belonging to the Kuki Zo tribal communities by various individuals and organisations of the majority community,” the memorandum said urging the Prime Minister to look into the undemocratic filings of FIR so that critical thinking academicians and intellectuals are given space for constructive analysis of the current turmoil.

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