IMPHAL, Sept 7: The Sadar Hills Women Union has strongly condemned the conduct of Assam Rifles personnel involved in the assault of women protestors yesterday evening at Kangpokpi.
A release of the union stated that in a shocking and unprecedented act of reckless and inhuman behavior, the personnel of 43 Assam Rifles unleashed terror on women agitators who were demanding declaration of Sadar Hills District as laid down in the Manipur (Hill Areas) Act, 1971.
There was an understanding between the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee and the Assam Rifles authorities that vehicles transporting AR/Army supplies would be given free passage so long as the AR does not interfere in the rightful political demand of the people of Sadar Hills. The agreement has been working fine until the AR personnel started escorting trucks carrying civilian goods, it stated.
The release further mentioned that on September 6 at around 4:30 pm AR personnel led by their Commanding Officer escorted about 30 civilian trucks in violation of the earlier agreement. They claimed that the trucks were carrying Army/AR supplies but the women volunteers who were enforcing the economic blockade refused to believe their argument because the AR personnel had, on August 31 unmasked their real identity and nature at Gamgiphai in Sadar Hills weherein they attacked and outraged the modesty of women agitators. They even rescinded on their promise that they would take the responsibility of treating the injured women even after having commited themselves to a Kuki customary called “HEM KHAM” by paying the price for a pig. And although that incident was brought to an amicable solution in the presence of the Commanding officer of 43 AR public leaders and MLAs the AR authorities ( PIB Defence Wing) denied the occurrence of any such incident in the newspaper the next day.) asked them to identify the trucks carrying army/AR goods. But the Commanding Officers sternly stated that all the trucks should be let off. The negotiation went on for two hours. Then the women volunteers agreed to give free passage to five trucks. But the CO was adamant. At last they agreed to let off ten trucks. Still the CO did not budge. So the agitated women volunteers took meiras (torches) and headed toward vehicles. As they approached the trucks it was discovered that many of the trucks were not transporting Army/AR goods. This angered the women and started torching one truck. This unleashed the animalistic nature of the AR personnel who kicked, slapped, rifle-butted the weak and defenseless women. This is most highly condemnable and very much unbecoming of soldiers who are known for bravery and valour. Amidst the mad frenzy of an all-out assault cries and wails of helpless women filled the night air.
The barbaric act of the AR personnel was even more criminal at Changoubung Village where the AR personnel took advantage and molested young girls who were enforcing the economic blockade. Such obscene and immoral act is most despicable and the AR personnel have time and again displayed it, the statement mentioned.
The women union has also appealed to the Army authorities to check the conduct of AR officers in question and ascertain the authenticity of the goods transported on the said day and to take punitive actions against the guilty officials who had tarnished the good image of the Indian Army.