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Thousands rally to protect ‘Manipur’s integrity’, Naga areas observe shutdown

Thousands of people from different walks of life on Wednesday took out a rally in Imphal against attempts to disintegrate Manipur even as a total shutdown was observed in Naga-dominated areas, demanding early settlement to the Indo-Naga peace talks. The Imphal rally was organised by the United Committee Manipur (UCM), who termed it as “a demonstration to show the legitimate wish of the people of Manipur to live and grow together as Manipur”.

The rally saw participation by various communities, students and political party members and was also supported by several civil society organisations of Manipur. A large number of police and paramilitary forces were deployed in Imphal to thwart any untoward incident.

A public meeting held after the rally unanimously resolved to fight any challenge to the political, social, historical, economic identity and emotional integrity of the people who have been living together in Manipur. They also resolved to oppose the extension of Article 371(A) and creation of Autonomous Religious Council in Manipur.

It was also resolved that people would take a strong stance to save Manipur and the future of its people if the Centre took any decision to disintegrate Manipur.

Sunil Karam, president UCM, termed the rally a ‘landmark’ in the history of Manipur and said, “We will let the government of India acknowledge the stand of the people for unity. Today, we take this firm stand for the integrity of Manipur that has been challenged despite vehement opposition by its people”.

Citing the June 2001 violence in Imphal, he cautioned the Centre, saying people were ready to take up any movement to safeguard the integrity of the state. In June 2001, 18 people were killed while protesting against the ceasefire extension without territorial limits between NSCN(IM) and the government.

The UCM president said despite peace talks with NSCN(IM) completing almost 21 years, the government has never stopped its divisive policy. Educational and business establishments remained closed and transport services stayed off the roads during the rally.

On the contrary, Naga areas in hill districts of Manipur observed total shutdown, demanding a settlement to the Naga political issue at the earliest. The shutdown was imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC) from 6 am to 6 pm.

Inter-district and inter-village transport services remained paralysed due to the shutdown in the Naga areas, including Chandel, Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Senapati districts. However, there was no report of any untoward incident.

“We imposed a total shutdown demanding expedition of the historic Indo-Naga framework agreement. The shutdown was successful and we thank all the tribe presidents, Naga frontal organisations, church leaders and every Naga citizen for making it successful,” said UNC general secretary S Milan.

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