IMPHAL, August 19: Tens of thousands of Nagas today organized massive public rallies at Senapati, Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Chandel districts, orchestrating a strong opposition to the creation of separate Sadar Hills and Jiribam districts.
The rally organized under the aegis of United Naga Council witnessed a mammoth turn-out in every district participated by several Naga organizations including school students, general public, social leaders etc.
In Tamenglong district, the rally was organized under the initiative of the District Protection Joint Forum, Tamenglong with banner and placards opposing the bifurcation of Naga inhabited areas for the creation of Sadar Hills and Jiribam districts.
The rally kicked off from Mini Stadium Tamenglong and continued upto Haipou Jaduannang’ Park this morning, possibly one of the biggest rally ever witnessed in the district.
The protestors displayed placards which read “no bifurcation of Nagas land, promote tribal unity”, “stop divide and rule policy”, “protect MoU signed with Nagas, we want peace and respect MoU signed with Nagas”.
The protestors also resolved to submit a memorandum to the Chief Minister, government of Manipur through the deputy commissioner Tamenglong. The memo reiterated the stand of the Naga people that not a single inch of the land belonging to the Zeliangrong people should be disturbed for the creation of the Sadar Hills district.
It also warned that any arbitrary action on the part of the government of Manipur will cause unpredictable ugly consequences.
The declaration was read out by Gwangphun Gangmei, social worker.
Further, the memo stated that Jiribam was under Tamenglong district then known as the North-West sub- division during the British period, later Jiribam became a valley sub-division under Imphal East district and still many villages and land of the present Tousem sub-division, Tamenglong district are included in the proposed Jiribam district.
The memo also stated that the Nagas are strongly and unitedly standing against the evil designs of the Jiribam District Demand Committee to snatch away land. The memo was signed by frontal Zeliangrong Organizations like District Protection Joint Forum, Zeliangrong Union, Zeliangrong Students Union Manipur, Zeliangrong Baudi, Zeliangrong Students Union Tousem Area, Zeliangrong Women Union, Village Authority Chairmen Council, Zeliangrong Pui-Pui Baudi, Zeliangrong Youth front and Zeliangrong Students Union, Tamenglong district.
A similar rally was also organized at Chandel under the initiative of Chandel Naga Peoples’ Organization where over 5 thousand rallyist turned out to take part in the rally.
After gathering at Japhou indoor stadium the protestors set-off from there till DC Lamkhai wherein a declaration was conveyed alongwith a prayer.
The rally was participated by various Chandel base Naga organizations, various tribes residing in Chandel including school students.
Naga Students Union, Chandel, ANTA, ATA, Maring Uparup, Moyon Monsang, Chothe, Tarao, Monsang Lamkang etc. were some of the organization strongly supporting the rally.
On the other hand, a massive gathering of rallyist, which could also possibly be the largest ever witnessed in Senapati district congregated at Senapati bazaar traffic point wherein a public meeting was also held under the banner, “protest rally against attempt to bifurcate Naga’s Land to create Sadar hills and Jiribam districts”.
Talking to media persons, leaders of the UNC and other Naga bodies voiced discontent on the demand for a separate Sadar Hills district.
UNC speaker, Milan Shimray said “No further division of Nagas without consulting us”.
ANSAM president, J. Kamo Sha added that Nagas are not against anybody but against anyone who are planning to divide Naga’s Land.
Voicing discontent against the state government former president of UNC Paolio said that the government is in-effective in addressing the Sadar Hills demand issue when people have been injured and lives have been lost in the wake of the economic blockade. The government has not acted to its full capability where as when the Nagas take out protest rallies they are met with violence and intimidation from the government side.
MN. Markson, asserted that when the Nagas enforced a blockade the leaders of the UNC and ANSAM were declared as wanted fugitives by the state government however all the chaos and unprecedented violence perpetrated in the wake of the Sadar hills demand is let off easy.
He further maintained that the treatment of the state government towards the Nagas is discriminating and warned that agitations will continue further.
Banners and placards which reads “respect the MoUs signed with the Nagas”, “No Naga’s Land for creation of Sadar hills”, “stop divide and rule policy” were displayed during the rally.
A common declaration for every district was conveyed during the rally informing that the rally was organised under the agies of United Naga Council to register strong objection to the attempt of the government of Manipur and its collaborators to bifurcate the land of the Nagas through the creation of Sadar Hills and Jiribam district.
“We condemn the divide and rule policy of the state government which has always played the communal card and thrown the bone of contention between the tribals of the state” said the declaration.
In spite of the four memorandum of understandings/agreements entered between the Nagas in Manipur and the government of Manipur in 1981, 1992, 1996 and 1998 which underlined the spirit that the “resolution to the conflict on the issue of Sadar Hills will be brought about through a consensus of the peoples concerned in the interest of bringing about lasting peace and harmony between the Nagas and Kukis”, however, the government of Manipur has with duplicity once again engineered the space for carving out from the land of the Nagas without the knowledge and consent of the Nagas, pitting the tribals against each other, it said.
The declaration further asserted that the Nagas wish for peace and harmony with the neighbouring communities which is based on mutual respect for each other’s right over land and its traditional ownership. The collaborators of the state government of Manipur are fishing in troubled water and this will only cause grievous damage to the fraternal relationship of the communities.
The rallies respect the genuine aspirations and rights of all communities in the state just as we wish that our aspirations and rights are also respected by the others. It is the position of the Nagas in Manipur that tribal unity and cooperation is the strength with which the Nagas can collectively resist the hegemony of the Manipur government, which has denied all constitutional rights to the tribals.
The tribal unity must therefore be nurtured and promoted by rejecting the divisive policy of the communal government of Manipur and building up trust and confidence with each other, the declaration stated.
John K. Kaping adds
UKHRUL: A huge public protest rally against the creation of Sadar Hills District by bifurcating Nagas` land under the aegis of the United Naga Council (UNC) was organized in Ukhrul today.
The protesters from all walks of life in Ukhrul district including students holding placards that reads, “No bifurcation of Naga`s land” marched through the streets of Ukhrul town and later converged into the Tangkhul Naga Long (TNL) ground for a public meeting where in a declaration was convened.
Octogenarian intellectual and also a former TNL president Peter Pheirei while addressing the mammoth gathering highlighted the history of Naga`s boundary during the British rule in Assam, Arunachal and in Angkoching Range (Somra track).
The president TNL Solomon Ningshen read out the declaration jointly signed by the presidents of TNL, Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong (TKS), Tangkhul Shanao Long (TSL), Tangkhul Youth Council (TMNL), Tangkhul, Naga Wungnao Long (TNWL).
The protest rally began at 10 am this morning and ended at 1:30 pm and during the procession, all shops, institutions, Offices and vehicular movements came to standstill.