Press Statement on 48 hours total bandh in Naga areas – June 16 to 18

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PRESS STATEMENT

8th June, 2013

 

In the Presidential Council meeting held on the 3rd June, 2013 the matter of relentless communal onslaught of the Government of Manipur(GoM) and communal forces of Imphal valley upon the Nagas and tribals was tabled for discussion. After thorough deliberation it was decided to observe a 48 hours total bandh in Naga areas w.e.f the midnight of 16th June, 2013 and till midnight of 18th June, 2013 to protest against the unabated communal actions and policies of the GoM and the communal forces in Imphal valley and to urge the Government of India to intervene immediately with an alternative arrangement.

 

The above decision was arrived at after considering the manner of response of the GoM and communal forces on many issues which emerged even after the direct attack on Christians and Tribals in Imphal valley in the wake of the reported assault on actress Momoko, the Napetpali assault and molestation and the murder of 2 Kongkan Tangkhul villagers – all during the Christmas season of December, 2013. The communal actions continues unabated in different forms, amongst which the following incidents were discussed in detail –

 

  1. 36 houses of Silent Tangkhul village were burnt down by neighbouring Saijang Meitei and their supporters on 3rd May, 2013 and properties worth crores of rupees was reduced to cinders and hundreds of villagers rendered homeless. The Cabinet of the GoM then steps in and imposes 144 CRPC in the area where the burnt houses once stood by declaring the same as disputed area, thereby endorsing the terror crime of burning of houses and clearly favouring Saijang Meitei. Instead of booking the vandals and arsonists, the GoM acts against the law of the land and adopts a communal position.

 

  1. The GoM offers a communal response and refuses to carry out its bounden duty of securing the safe return of Ms. Alice Kamei, a  14 year old tribal school girl who has been in the custody of the Revolutionary Peoples Front/Peoples Liberation Army(RPF/PLA) since 10th March, 2013 stating that the minor Ms Alice has joined the RPF on her own volition. Communal GoM absolves a militant group of its crime of abduction/ensnaring a minor away from the care of her parents and guardians.

 

  1. The eviction of 28 houses in Naga River Colony by the GoM on the 20th May, 2013 left more than 100 school going children homeless and 3 churches mowed down. The eviction of the bona fide residents of Naga River Colony was carried on the pretext of construction of a 5 star hotel and systematically carried out by first propagating that the “patta” of the area were faulty and then issuing back dated eviction orders which did not allow the resident to salvage whatever is possible from their houses. Even standing court ruling of maintaining status quo was not honoured. At daybreak of 20th May, 2013, Naga River colony was wiped out of the face of the earth epitomising the determined design of the Communal GoM to disown tribals and Christian of their legitimate rights.

 

  1. Surrenderees Cadres of the KYKL(MDF) have been lodged by the GoM with the 20th Assam Rifles at Chandel. Instead of bringing development to the hills, the GoM using the tribal areas as dumping ground for surrendered militant groups from the Imphal valley insulting the owners of the land. Organised protest has not resulted in any corrective measures from the GoM.
  2. The officer-in-Charge of Sugnu Police Station has summoned the Chiefs of 12 tribal villages located in the foothills of Chandel district to come with land patta of their respective villages. The summons are obviously with a view to replicate what has been done in Naga River Colony so that by harassing the villagers and detecting some non-existent irregularity the village can be evicted by the GoM.

 

  1. Maipethel Dam, under a mega 715.81 crore project has been sanctioned for construction in Chadong village, Ukhrul District without the free prior and informed consent of the tribal people who are to be dislodged from their homes and lands by the project. The affected villagers on protest were able to extract an understanding with the GoM to institute an Expert Review Committee so that proper environment impact assessments is duly undertaken and appropriate rehabilitation and resettlement package worked out before resumption of the project. But GoM dishonoured this understanding, violated all international norms and split up the villagers by engineering infighting. GoM then sent in the Manipur IRB to the project area to secure forcible completion of the project and placed the village Chadong area virtually under siege, dislocating the day to day life of the villagers. Fictitious list of names for payment of compensation was prepared by the GoM, insulting the genuine affected villagers and fomenting acrimony within the villagers.

 

The project is intended to feed Imphal valley with drinking water and uninterrupted power supply. But what about the affected tribal villagers, the targeted victims of the project ? Why were established norms and procedures not followed. Bulldozing over the villagers with force, luring away some sections of the victims with irregular compensations and engineering conflict within the villagers typifies the GoM’s communal approach in its agenda for ensuring power & water supply to Imphal valley with the least respect for the tribal landowners and their due rights.

 

  1. On 14th April, 2013 fifteen tribal students staying on rent in the house of one Manitombi Devi in Soibam Leikai, Khanglabung, Imphal were attacked by locals of Khanglabung Leirak. They were assaulted and their personal belongings vandalised. On 15th April, 2013 when community student leaders visited the house for enquiry they were also attacked with catapults. The locals of Khanglabung reportedly maintained on ISTV that the incident took place due to dispute between the Landlord and the local populace. No action has been taken by the GoM and tribals continue to be soft target of the communal forces in Imphal valley where all important facilities such as education and health are centred.

 

  1. In a bid to grab tribal lands attempt are being made to drag in tribal villages such as Khangshim, Kanemram, Nungaourok & Koraopokpi under Machi Block Chandel into Kakching block under Thoubal valley district. Signboards of the tribal villages have been defaced and provocative and derogatory insults are being hurled on the tribals unceasingly.

 

  1. The political tour in Naga areas carried out in April-May, 2013 to Chandel, Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Senapati district has confirmed our position that development planning of the GoM are itself communal and that the crores and crores of rupees sanctioned for development project in the hills have been done only to siphon off funds through contract works without any sincere intention to develop the tribal areas.

 

Nagas have consistently maintained that we are not communal. But the Nagas and tribals cannot have their identity recognised; have their identity, land and way of life protected; live with dignity and honour  under the Communal Government of Manipur and with the communal forces in Imphal valley.The sharp social divide on communal lines in the present State of Manipur engendered by the communal action and policies of the GoM and the communal forces in Imphal valley, of which few of the recent instances have been highlighted above, cries out for immediate intervention of the Government of India with an alternative arrangement outside the Government of Manipur.

 

The 48 hours total bandh will cover the railway construction works. Medical services, fire-brigade, media, power and telecommunication departments will be exempted from the purview of the total bandh.

 

We solicit the cooperation and goodwill of the general public towards making the protest programme peaceful and violence free. Anybody violating the total bandh would be doing so at their own risk.

 

 

Publicity Wing

United Naga Council

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