Ukhrul: Huge crowds gathered at the Ukhrul district headquarters in Manipur on Thursday and participated in a mega peace rally against the alleged forceful stationing of Assam Rifles in nine villages of Ukhrul and Kamjong districts.
Organised by the civil societies of the Tangkhul community, the protestors demanded immediate withdrawal of Assam Rifles camps being set up in their villages and also for removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.
The peace rally began at 10:30 am from two locations-Mission ground, Hunphun and Dungrei junction, Hungpung and converged at Ava Market (Mothers’ Market) at Phungreitang.
Slogans like ‘Go back Indian Army’, ‘We will never surrender’, ‘We want peace, not war,’ and ‘Democracy our right’ were heard during the protests.
According to Tangkhul civil society organisations (CSOs), public spaces such as playgrounds, schools and children’s homes and community halls are being used as camps by Assam Rifles, thereby hindering their usual functioning. Moreover, security check posts have been set up, and locals are being subjected to scrutiny as they go about their lives.
“This is not only an obvious discourtesy to the existing administration of the land but also a lack of consideration for the fears of the people,” said the CSOs.
They further alleged that private spaces have also been spared as constructions are being undertaken on private properties with utter disregard for their ownership.
Moreover, women and children especially are subjected to the fears caused by this unwarranted situation in the guise of AFSPA, 1958, it stated.
Also, according to the CSOs, elders yet to recover from trauma caused by the army’s violence are being subjected to it all over.
Last week, alleging the Assam Rifles of forcefully occupying their land and setting up their camps, locals from Khamasom, Mapum, Poi, Tusom CV and Lamlang villages in Ukhrul district while Kangpat Khullen, Chatric, Ramphoi and Kasom Khullen in Kamjong district staged a sit-in-protest in their villages simultaneously.
The locals claimed that the Assam Rifles set up their camps without the lcoals’ consent and demanded they immediately leave their land.
“In defending our land, which is our identity, we appeal to every Tangkhuls to join us as one voice and together, let’s safeguard our rights,” organising committee convenor SA Ramnganing stated earlier.
Later, the apex bodies also submitted a Memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and appealed for the immediate withdrawal of the forceful Assam Rifles occupations from 9 villages and the repeal of the draconian AFSPA from the entire state of Manipur.
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