IMPHAL, Aug 17: Even though former JCILPS convenor Khomdram Ratan has been declared a wanted man with a cash reward of Rs five lakh to anyone who can provide information leading to his arrest, Ratan took part in a mass protest at Keishampat Leima-jam Leikai community hall today. Ratan was however arrested late in the night while joining the fast at Keisham-pat Leimajam Leikai.
Notably, a relay hunger strike is being staged at the community hall under the aegis of JCILPS demanding enactment of a Constitutional safeguard for protection of indigenous peoples of Manipur.
Accompanied by a number of JCILPS activists, students and members of the JAC Against the Wanted Tag, Ratan arrived at the protest site at around 11 am.
A large number of media persons also rushed to the site with the anticipation that police would arrest Ratan from the protest site. However, no police team arrived at Keishampat Leimajam Leikai community hall till 6 pm.
Speaking to mediapersons, Ratan said that he could work together with the masses during the past two months on account of a wrong step taken by the State Govt. He said that he is there to join the movement once again from today. The demand to enforce ILPS or a similar mechanism is a lawful one and all the three Bills passed by the State Assembly in response to the popular demand were all within the ambit of Indian Constitution.
ILPS which is still in force in neighbouring Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh was also enforced in Manipur at one point of time, Ratan said. On June 2 this year that Khomdram Ratan was declared a wanted man by the State Government based on a photograph uploaded on Facebook.
“On the same day I made it clear before media that I am innocent and I’m challenging the Govt’s order in the High Court”, Ratan said.
“I’ve been working together with and in the midst of the public for the past 30 years and it would be impossible for me to stay aloof from the masses”, he asserted.
He said that he came to re-join the mass movement with this conviction. He further exuded that the masses would stand for him.
MLAs Lisham Ibomcha and Kh Joykishan came to the protest site and talked with Ratan. Leaders of many civil society organisations also came there.
Later, JCILPS convenor in-charge BK Moirangcha said that they were gratified by the return of former convenor Kh Ratan to the mass movement on the 15th day of the ongoing relay hunger strike.
After the Government declared Ratan as a wanted man with a diabolic intention to suppress the mass movement, Ratan resigned from JCILPS but Ratan’s bold public appearance has testified that he is innocent, BK Moirangcha said.
Such tactics of the Government will never succeed in suppressing the mass movement. The ongoing agitation would be intensified and the next course of agitation would be announced within the next three/four days, BK Moirangcha said
To a query, he informed that JCILPS has not so far talked with any representatives of the JAC Against Anti-Tribal Bills, Churachandpur.