By R Lester Makang
UKHRUL, August 11: In what could be seen as ‘unprecedented’ in recent history of peoples’ movement in the district, thousands of people have on Monday peacefully demonstrated on the main road of Ukhrul town in the heavy presence of State security forces, to show their support for the ongoing peace dialogue between the Government of India (GoI) and NSCN-IM while also seeking to attain a scenario of peace and justice for the people.
Dressed in Tangkhul traditional attire, mammoth crowds of demonstrators — both men and women – from different localities of the township and its environ showed up on the town’s main road at around 10 am today defying prohibitory order under Section 144 CrPc which has been in force in the town since July 13 a day after an ADC Ukhrul member was killed by unidentified miscreants.
The demonstrators put up banners reading “Honour Indo-Naga Or Cease the Ceasefire,” “Stop Militarization,” “We Want immediate honourable solution,” “Make Peace, Not War,”etc. They formed a human-chain at several places along the stretch spanning 6 kms. from Dungrei Junction, Hungpung to Awontang Junction, Hunphun while chanting the peace slogans in unison. As part of the demonstration, the people also sang hyms from the Christian Hymnal and asked in prayer for realization of an honourable settlement of the long-standing Naga political issue.
The crowd, however, stayed put on the road-side and exit points to avert any incidence of confrontation and violence as the State security forces maintained their heavy presence at all strategic locations apart from a large contingent of police personnel in riot gears forming a blockage, especially at the two end points restricting movement of the people.
Meanwhile, in connection with the day’s demonstration the 41 Chandel MLA Victor Nunglung visited the town to show solidarity with the demonstrators espousing the ongoing Indo-Naga peace talks. Accompanied by UNC president L. Adani and TNL president Artax A Shimray, MLA Victor Nunglung reached out to the demonstrators by dropping around the town’s different localities where people were holding peaceful demonstrations.
The public demonstration which ended at around 1:30 pm without any untoward occurances was participated by thousands of people from 42 localities within Hungpung and Ukhrul and also from neighbouring villages like Shirui, Langdang, Halang Aze, Halang Ato, Lamlang Sekhor, Pharung Shimtang, Choithar etc. It was organized by the Tangkhul Longnao, a federation of all Tangkhul organizations.
Later, in a brief interaction with pressmen during his two-hour visit here at Ikror Restaurant, Hamleikhong, the MLA said that the purpose of his visit to Ukhrul was to extend his support for the people movement. He also said that was deeply saddened by the unfortunate July 12 incident wherein Ngalangzar Malue, an Ukhrul ADC member was killed by unidentified persons and condemned such act.
At the same time, MLA Victor disclosed that there has been no cases of violence in the town and that he would request the State government to revoke 144 CrPc as well as withdraw deployment of reinforced State security forces from the district before any untoward happens while exuding hope that in the event of revocation of the prohibitory act, social leaders of the district would be able to rein in the situation.
Meanwhile, speaking to pressmen during a press conference held at TKS office, Tangkhul Naga Wungnao Long (TNWL) spokesperson TS Zimik said that people want clear cut status of the ceasefire coverage as Manipur government has thrown it into disarray by claiming that there is no ceasefire in Manipur.
TKS general secretary Leiyalan Vashum asserted that holding this demonstration is significant as the Naga public need to consistently show support to the Naga peace process, while exuding confidence in the new Government at the Centre for finding an honourable solution to the Naga issue.
Questioning the GoI’s motive, ANSAM president Seth Satsang has asked as to why it (GoI) always asked for Naga unity before coming to a settlement. “Is it trying to find many solutions when there is only one issue?” he asked.