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Manipur Naga women protest Shiroi standoff

Naga women demonstrate across the four districts of Naga inhabited areas in Manipur, Monday. (NP)
Correspondent Senapati, Feb 2 (NPN):
Published on 3 Feb. 2009 12:40 AM IST
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The much touted epithet of the Assam Rifles “Friends of the Hill People” seems to be fast proving contrary in the four Naga-inhabited hill districts of Manipur as people took to the street in the form of sit-in-dharna in protest against the siege of Shirui village in Ukhrul district by the 17 Assam Rifles. Responding to the call of the Naga Women Union Manipur (NWUM), the Naga women carrying placards staged sit-in-dharna in different parts of the four Naga-inhabited hill districts of Manipur today demanding immediate withdrawal of the Assam Rifles and cessation of the ongoing siege. “Cease the Shirui siege”, “We demand immediate withdrawal of Assam Rifles from Shirui village”, “Ceasefire is universal”, “Don’t break peace to pieces”, “We want negotiation not confrontation”, “Ceasefire is between GoI & NSCN not state” and “Cutting off food and water supply is violation of right to live”, read the placards. The sit-in-dharna, an initiative of the UNC, was organized under the banner of the NWUM in every town and administrative headquarters of all the four hill districts of Senapati, Ukhrul, Chandel and Tamenglong. “History tells us that the AR has been in the Naga areas for a long time now and it as part of the Indian security force had always created havoc even in the Naga struggle. The force has become more sophisticated now,” said former UNC president Paul Leo while talking to media persons on the sideline of the dharna at Senapati. He also rubbished the much touted epithet of the Assam Rifles and said “they have been claiming that they are the friends of the hill people but they have been the predators of the Nagas”. To justify his point, Leo sought to know how many Naga women had been raped and how many Naga houses destroyed by them? Reacting to the publicity stunt of the AR helping the public through distributing drinking water to the agitating women at Shirui village, he warned that with such kind of “sugar coated act”, the AR cannot win the heart of the people. In the same vein, Grace Shatsang, president, NWUM, said the Assam Rifles call themselves Friends of the Hill People but there work does not match. She also went on to castigate the logo scripted on the main gate of the IGAR(S) which reads “Assam Rifles - Custodian of Manipur” and wondered whether they are really the custodian of Manipur. In this regard, she wanted that the Manipur government look into the matter and take up necessary corrective measures. Meanwhile, it was learnt that the UNC is calling for an emergency meeting tomorrow to decide the future course of action. On the other hand, sources said all the Naga MLAs from Manipur along with the Naga MP from Outer Manipur constituency had been camping in New Delhi to put pressure on the Centre to defuse the standoff. Shirui siege ends Dimapur, Feb 2 (NPN): The NSCN-IM has said the Shirui village siege by the 17 Assam Rifles has finally ended with the intervention of civil societies and international organizations. A release issued by the MIP/GPRN today said the designated camp will be decided by the higher authorities.

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