Students, women join campaign demanding protection of Manipur territory

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Imphal, November 8: Many sections of the people, including students and women, joined the campaign in Manipur demanding the protection of Manipur’s territory, against the backdrop of the understanding the Centre had reached with some Naga bodies, which held peace talks for the last 22 years.
Students from most of the districts came out of their classes on Friday, squatted on busy roads and formed human chains, thereby hindering free flow of traffic.
They raised slogans that Manipur territory cannot be compromised and diluted. Women activists and student leaders told The Hindu that Manipur is a State with 2,000 years of written history. M. Keinatombi, a woman activist said, “That Manipur had been an independent kingdom is established by the international treaties the State had signed with some foreign countries. Manipur had its Assembly and elected MLAs. King Budhachandra who was a titular head was summoned in Shillong, now capital of Meghalaya, in September 1949 and he signed the merger agreement under duress after keeping him under house arrest”. He had signed the merger agreement on September 21, 1949 though it was officially made public on October 15, 1949 to synchronise with that of Tripura, a princely State in the Northeast which was merged with independent India. However eminent scholars and other intellectuals in a public convention were of the unanimous view that the merger agreement with Manipur is “null and void” since the State Assembly never authorised the titular king to sign the agreement.”
Women who take out torchlight procession every day say that they shall not rest till the details of the Naga agreement are put in public domain.
After snapping ties on Thursday with the Manipur government, the Coordination Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), formed by five civil society organisations quarter-backing the agitations, exhorted the people to launch various campaigns near the houses of the 60 MLAs and four MPs who are allegedly shirking their accountability to the people on this burning issue.
Sunil Karam, coordinator of the COCOMI says, “Though the Chief Minister N. Biren had assured the leaders of the civil organisations to summon an emergency session of the Manipur Assembly it is now clear that there will be no session to take a resolution on the Naga agreement. On the other hand, Biren says he will be first to resign or to sacrifice his life if Manipur’s interest and territory are compromised. However some leaders point out that it will be immaterial if Biren resigns or takes the extreme step once the Naga agreement is inked.”
Earlier another BJP Cabinet Minister. T. Shyamkumar said he will commit suicide if Manipur’s territory is compromised.
However, women activists said that no purpose will be served by their “sacrifices” after the inordinate delay. Women vigilantes say that if there is nothing objectionable in the Naga agreement it should have been kept in the public domain. They further say that it is fearsome why the government is transporting security personnel in trucks, special aircrafts and helicopters to Manipur ahead of the public announcement of the details of the Naga agreement.
Police said though they are outnumbered by students, women vigilantes and other activists in the day-and-night agitations, the additional forces from Tripura and other States have not been deployed in the trouble-prone areas yet. (Courtesy: The Hindu)