`NHRC has directed State to initiate CBI investigation on reported misuse of phumdis clearing funds`

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IMPHAL, December 22: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has, according to a reliable source, registered a case taking cognizance of an urgent appeal submitted on November 30 by the All Loktak Lake Areas Fishermen’s Union and All Manipur Thanga People’s Welfare Association regarding the widely reported eviction drive of hundreds of phum khangpok-sangs carried out by the Loktak Development Authority (LDA) assisted by the Manipur Police and security forces stationed in and around Loktak from November 15-25.

A statement of the CORE has stated that the eviction drive was conducted under the provisions of the draconian Manipur Loktak Lake (Protection) Act of 2006.

According to Satyabrata Pal, member, NHRC, the Commission has issued a notice on December 19, returnable within four weeks of its receipt, to D. S. Poonia, chief secretary. He further said that the NHRC had also recently issued a directive to the Manipur government to initiate a CBI investigation regarding the reported misuse of central funds allocated for the clearing of phumdis from the Loktak.

The families affected by the eviction and arson including women, children and elderly are still reported to be taking refuge at Haoreng Chingyang at Thanga and Ningthoukhong Makha Leikai community hall in Bishenpur district, Manipur, and in makeshift camps nearby, the statement added.

Their fishing gears including nets were burnt. The families are described by the Manipur Loktak Lake (Protection) Act of 2006 as “occupiers”, and the government of Manipur distributed some money abandoning the community in an extremely stressful situation, with no sustainable measures to rehabilitate them and nothing to fend for themselves. Many of the children can no longer go to school. With the winter already set in Manipur, the displaced villagers are facing many inconveniences, such as health complications of the elderly and young children. Lack of food, clean drinking water and access to hygienic sanitation are only some of their immediate woes, the statement added.

It has further added that a peaceful protest rally reportedly taken out from Thanga by the affected families on December 19 was stopped by the police at Ithing who resorted to threats, abuse and firing.

“It was learnt from reliable sources that 11 women had to be taken to the Community Health Centre at Moirang for various injuries. One woman has been referred to the RIMS Hospital for further treatment after she was allegedly assaulted by a police officer, the release further claimed.

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