In spite of incessant rain, a large number of women from Ukhrul Town on Saturday left for Godah-Shakok range, the spot where the gun battle took place on August12.
A fleet of about 50 vehicles, including buses, trucks and taxis were moving towards Godah village, 35 kms away Ukhrul Hqs when 23rd Assam Rifles tried to prevent them from moving beyond Shangshak. The women managed to break the barricade and moved towards the spot this evening. The 23rd AR has been preventing anyone from venturing beyond Shangshak AR gate. In the gun battle, some IM cadres are believed to have been shot dead or holed up inside the jungle which has been fortified by the AR. Sporadic gunshots have been heard from the neighbouring areas. Most men living in the adjoining areas have deserted their homesteads and are said to be taking shelter in the nearby jungle.
Earlier, citizens of Ukhrul abstained from taking part in Independence Day celebrations and had converged at the TNL ground where a funeral service was held for the two slain cadres. A public meeting was held later. Two bullet-riddled bodies of IM cadres have been retrieved so far and many more are said to be missing.
The August 12 gun battle has crystallized into a major issue for the people of the district, which had remained relatively peaceful as an outcome of the cease-fire between the NSCN and GOI. The incident has evoked mass resentment from the people and Assam Riffles posted at Ukhrul town were seen patrolling the town. The Region office of NSCN was also locked up and four people were taken into their custody. An alarm was soon sounded in the town and thousands of fire-torch bearing women-folk converged at the TNL ground. The arrested people were later released.
On Thursday, thousands of the town’s citizens held a mass public meeting at Ukhrul Hqs. and paraded the coffin of one the killed cadres on the streets with large banners inscribed “AR the Killers of the Hills Peoples”. A memorandum addressed to the PM was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, Ukhrul. (From Aya A. Shimray.)