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India: Demand for Judicial Probe into firing at Mao Gate, Manipur

At an emergency press meeting held today at Constitution Club, New Delhi by Indian civil society organisations, those present including Naga MLAs from Manipur urged for peace but agreed that the situation is getting increasingly volatile even as minority communities in Manipur feel presently threatened by the heightened insecurity and historical discrimination.

Independent Naga MLAs from Manipur have resigned as they feel their petitions to the Home Ministry have fallen on deaf ears. They are demanding a judicial enquiry on the situation that led to the firing by the Manipur IRB killing at least four persons and injuring several others at Mao Gate on the borders of Manipur today (06/05/10). They said hastening of the Indo-Naga Peace Process to reach an amicable solutaion acceptable to the Nagas is the only way to resolve the present crisis. Members of human rights, civil society and democratic organisations, that included Tapan Bose, Gerneral Secretary of South Asia Forum for Human rights, Kathmandu, Prof Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, New Delhi, and others spoke at the press conference. While condemning the firing and use of tear gas on Naga people at Mao Gate, Manipur, assembled there to welcome their leader, Mr. Th Muivah to visit his native village and other Naga areas in Manipur. The deployment of large number of security forces at the state borders, the unprovoked destruction of traditional welcome gates by the forces, and the total blockage of transit of all travelers from Nagaland to Manipur have triggered panic and insecurity among the local people and unnecessarily heightened tensions between different communities in the region. The present crisis began with Mr. Muivah’s visit that had the approval of the Government of India (GOI). Soon, however, the illegal action of the Government of Manipur in disallowing the visit created a dangerous situation that directly negated the spirit of the Naga Peace Talks over the last 13 years. Reportedly now the GOI’s Home Ministry has asked the Naga leader to cancel his proposed visit. This kind of flip-flop by the GOI is not going to help the Indo-Naga peace process to progress at all. The same kind of attitude was witnessed in 2001 when the ceasefire between GOI and NSCN (IM) was extended ‘without territorial limits.’ At the core of Manipur’s opposition to the Indo-Naga Peace talks is the demand for integration of all Naga areas into one administrative unit. However, the promise of integrating all Naga areas dates back to 1964 Agreement between the Federal Government of Nagaland and the GOI. The same promise was made again in the 1975 Shillong Accord between GOI and Underground Nagas. The speakers called upon lifting of the blockade of transport of goods and people from the Imphal valley to the hills and at the Nagaland-Manipur border that had caused great hardships to ordinary people. Everyone present in today’s press conference felt the only way to deescalate the tensions is to speed up the Naga peace process and bring about an honourable and acceptable solution to this long-existing issue. Else the volatile situation in Manipur might erupt in serious violence and damage the hill-valley relations beyond repair. Speakers at the press conference urged the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh to work towards achieving an amicable resolution to the Naga Peace Process, something that he promised and hoped. It is imperative that GOI intervenes judiciously to defuse the current situation and allow Mr. Muivah to visit his hometown and other Naga areas in Manipur without any further delay. This will pave the way for a respectable settlement of the Naga issue. The speakers alleged that Okram Ibobi Singh, Chief Minister of Manipur was using the situation to communally polarize the people for his own political gains. They called upon him to desist from using force against Naga peoples and withdraw the cabinet decision barring Mr. Muivah to visit Manipur. The Govt. of Manipur should work together with GOI to settle the Naga issue. Naga MLAs from Manipur had earlier asked the CM to withdraw the illegal and controversial decision of the cabinet disallowing Mr Muivah’s visit. In Delhi, upon not getting an appointment with the central Home Minister or the PM, they have sent in their resignations to the speaker of the Manipur Assembly. They shared a letter they had sent to the speaker in the press conference. The MLAs are: Mr W Morung Makunga, Mr Awungbow Newmai, Mr K Raina, Dr Khashim Ruivah and Mr M Thohreii. Signed on behalf of organizers Ravi Hemadri

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