Human Rights issues in Manipur and participation of Tangkhul Women
- Part 2 -

Maireiwon Ningshen *

 A rally for The Naga Youth Locomotion for peace 'Expedite Framework Agreement' from Phalee to Somdal in Ukhrul District on 14th August 2018
A rally "Expedite Framework Agreement" from Phalee to Somdal in August 2018 :: Pix - Oken Luwang

Organisational Structure: The TSL has a President as the head of the organisation. She is the chief spokesperson and chief executive of the organization. There is also an Executive Committees. The Executive Committee assists the President in her day-to-day works. There is also a General Body consisting of all the registered members, and it meets twice in a year. The Executive Committee executes day-to-day matters of the TSL but the General Body is the final authority to decide any major policy.

The Executive Committee is to have not more than 21 members and not less than 19 members. The Executive Committees of the TSL comprises the following members (Ibid., 9):i) Yaruiwo (President); ii) Woshinwo (Vice President); iii) Kapime (General Secretary); iv) Pishinme (Joint Secretary); v) Chumsingmi (Treasurer); and vi) Kazime (Accountant)

a. Twelve other members were drawn from the circle areas. (There are four circle areas and three members each from each circle has to be drawn).

b. Any other member drawn from the area where the TSL Head Quarter is located. These members are to be drawn from people who are in medical or educational profession, or involved in Christian missionary activities, etc..

Qualification of the President of TSL: To be the President of TSL, a Tangkhul woman must have at least attained the age of 40 years. She should also be at least a graduate. However, an exceptional woman with high leadership quality can be considered even without the graduate degree. She must not be an active member of any political parties. She must know how to read and write Tangkhul language and she must be a woman of high moral standard.

Its emblem, motto and flag: A pair of Zeithing (Spear), with Chonkhom (A Tangkhul Naga shawl), printed in the middle and Kongsang (Traditional Tangkhul necklace) printed below the Chonkhom and the motto written between is used as their emblem. The motto of TSL is "Mashun Otsakrum" which means "Unity for Justice". The TSL's flag is made of two colours. The upper part is sky-blue and the lower part of the flag is white in colour signifying Justice. The Chonkhom is printed in the middle of the flag signifying the unity of all the Tangkhul women.

Aims and objectives of the TSL(Zinkhai, op.cit., 35).: The aims and objectives of the TSL are : to safeguard the rights, modesty and dignity of women; to promote educational, cultural, and customary life of women; to promote economic growth and welfare including animal husbandry, handicraft, weaving, tailoring, agriculture etc.; to promote peace, development, growth, and prosperity in all aspects of life; Maintain and create healthy atmosphere in all spheres of life; to establish contacts with other organizations having similar objects around the globe; to create awareness among the villagers through organizing and conducting trainingworkshops, seminars, consultations, etc.; to participate in maintaining ecology and environmental balance; and to organize relief, charity, etc. to help people who are in genuine need due to natural calamities and unforeseen incidents.

The TSL and Human Rights Issues: The emergence of TSL coincides with a new development that took place within the Naga underground. It may be remembered here that a faction of the Naga National Council (NNC) known as National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) emerged as some of the NNC members did not accept the Shillong Accord which was signed between the Government of India and NNC on the 11 November 1975.

With this, the Indian Armed Forces intensified their counter insurgency operations to crush the new uprising because the Government of India was convinced that Naga Nationalism had erupted again with greater force and enthusiasm with the emergence of the new organisation. Constant armed conflicts became the order of the day. It has also been already pointed out that with the coming of the NSCN (IM), the Naga inhabited areas of Manipur in general and the Tangkhul inhabited areas in particular became the mainstay of the underground insurgent activities of the Nagas.

As such, these areas attracted the attention of the Armed Forces all the more. Under such circumstances, the TSL came to play the role of the vanguard of the human rights of the people and it took up many human rights issues affecting the people. Some of the important human rights violation related cases concerning the Nagas which the TSL took up are being discussed as follows:

C. Paul and C. Daniel missing case:

The first task which the EDWA took up after changing its name to TSL was the missing case of C. Paul and C. Daniel after they were picked up by the personnel of the 21st Battalion of Sikh Regiment from their village. They were picked up in connection with an attack on the 21st Battalion of Sikh Regiment by some Naga undergrounds which took place in Namthilok (a location near Litan village in the Imphal-Ukhrul Road). In the attack, around 22 soldiers died and it also resulted in the seizing of arms by the underground. (TKS, 2007: 34).

The Sikh Regiment in the aftermath of the attack conducted search operations in the entire neighbouring villages. They tortured and beat up severely the villagers irrespective of age and sex even administering electric shocks and taking forced signature in blank paper. It left many people physically and mentally handicapped. In connection with this incident, the 21st Sikh Regiment arrested C. Paul, Assistant Pastor and C. Daniel, Headmaster of Huining (now Halang) on 19 March 1981. (History Committee TSL, op.cit., p.19).

After that they never returned back to their village and they were believed to have been killed and their bodies still remains untraced.( TKS , op.cit.). The movement of the villagers were also restricted during the operation. In connection with this episode, the President and Secretary of the TSL went for an on the spot enquiry to the village and later it filed a writ petition in the Guwahati High Court against the 21st Sikh Regiment. In this case TSL also got support from other student unions and organisations working in the same field.

Consequently, the TSL together with the NPMHR organized an all women "Fact Finding Team" to investigate into all the atrocities committed by the Indian Armed Forces in Ukhrul District. (MIP, GPRN, 2002: 84). All the members of the Fact Finding Team were women from Delhi. The team reached Ukhrul in February 1982. The team included the following four prominent women leaders (History Committee Tangkhul Shanao Long, op.cit., p.19.).

They are- Promola Dandavage of Mahila Dakshita Samiti; Nandita Haksar of People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR); Subhadra Joshi of Sampradayikta Virodhi Dal; Premila Loob of National Federation of Indian Women; Urmila Phadnis of People's Union for Civil Liberties; and Kirti Singh of Janwadi Mahila Samiti.

After the Fact Finding Team concluded their investigation, the PUDR, Delhi, filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court in January 1983, demanding the production of C. Paul and C. Daniel. It also challenged the constitutionality of the AFSPA. (EPW, Vol.9.No.51/52, December 22-29, 1984: 2157-2160. Consequently, the PUDR succeeded in getting a court direction restraining the Indian army from using churches or educational institutions as camps or interrogation places. (Souvenir Nagalim -50 Years of Resistance. op.cit., 60).

Besides this, the Supreme Court also upheld the habeas corpus petition against the army for the first time, and held the Union Government responsible for the death of the two persons and ordered compensation to be paid to the widows of the deceased. Thus together with other organisations, TSL stood up and fought for justice and for the protection of the Human Rights of the people.

Miss Luingamla Muinao attempted rape and murdered Case:

On 24 January 1986 two army officers namely, Capt. Madir Singh and Lt. Sanjeev Dubey tried to rape a village girl called Ms. Luingamla Muinao of Ngainga Village at her residence, and when she resisted, she was shot dead. (NWUM, Senapati, 1998: 17). Against this backdrop, on 25 January 1985 many Tangkhul civil organisations including the TSL and other student unions held a protest rally in the Ukhrul town. A huge public meeting together with the dead body of Ms. Luingamla was held at Ukhrul Tangkhul Long Ground.

In connection to this incident, the TSL again organised one big rally in Imphal on 11 March 1986 which was attended by more than 5000 people irrespective of caste and creed. Many other valley based organisations also supported and joined the TSL in its fight for justice. Those valley based organisations which participated in the protest rally included organisations like the Macha Leima, All Manipur Student Union (AMSU), All Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM), Tangkhul Naga Long (TNL), Tangkhul Baptist Long (TBL), Naga Student Federation (NSF), Naga People's Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR), Nupilal Marup, Manipur Tribal Human Rights Association, etc.

A meeting was also held after the rally. The meeting resolved to observe 11 March as the 'Unity Day' of the hill and valley People of Manipur. (History Committee TSL, op.cit., 28). The TSL, besides organising the rally, also filed a case on behalf of Lt. Miss Luingamla Muinao against the two Army officers. Miss Alungphy Horam, the then Joint Secy. of the TSL also attended the court martial hearing at Leimakhong Army Headquarter where the case of Late Miss Luingamla was held. Finally, the culprit who fired the fatal shoot was terminated from the service. (NWUM, op.cit., 35.) In this way, the TSL played an important role in fighting for the human rights of the people and their persistent efforts resulted in the due punishment of the culprit involved in the case.

Oinam "Operation Bluebird" case:

As time went by, the TSL started addressing itself not only to the human rights problems of the Ukhrul District but also with that of the other Nagas living outside the District. The action it took up in connection with the Operation Bluebird at Oinam Village of Senapati District, Manipur. It so happened that the Assam Rifles post at Oinam Village was attacked by some cadre of the NSCN (IM) on 9 July 1987 and decamped with a huge amount of arms and ammunitions.

In the name of searching for the looted arms and ammunition, the Assam Rifles let loose a reign of terror in the entire area of Oinam. Having sealed off the area first, it began an extensive combing operation with the code name "Operation Bluebird" on 11 July 1987. The Operation lasted for nearly four months and ended only in October 1987. Within a few days of launching the operation, the Assam Rifles shot dead fifteen persons after subjecting them to inhuman torture. (Kohini B. Moses, It covered thirty villages of the Senapati District. (Amnesty International, January 1990).

Many public leaders, political leaders, journalists and student leaders, voiced their concern and sent representations to the government, but no official commission of enquiry was set forth. The Deputy Commissioner (DC) and Superintendent of Police were also wrongly confined, humiliated and prevented from discharging their duty by the Assam Rifles. The Chief Minister was also rendered helpless in protecting the villagers from the atrocities of the Assam Rifles as he was not allowed to enter the sealed village.( Koheni, op.cit.)

The Civil Liberties and Human Rights Organisation (CLAHRO) was the first to file a petition in the Guwahati High Court for the release of the people who have been illegally confined in the village. Against this backdrop, the TSL also launched a protest rally along with other organisations in the Ukhrul District on 4 September 1987. The protest rally was organised in Ukhrul town and was attended by thousands of men and women.

A public meeting was also held and the TSL leader Ms. Ayung K. urged everyone to unite and fight against such kinds of injustice meted out to the innocent civilians of the neighbouring district, i.e. the Senapati District. Soon the TSL became one of the members of the Co-ordinating Committee formed in connection with the Oinam case. (History Committee TSL, op.cit., 35). As a member of the Co-ordinating Committee, the organisation gave all the necessary help and support to the Manipur Baptist Convention Women's Union (MBCWU) who filed a case against the Assam Rifles.

The TSL also gave support to the NPMHR who also filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Guwahati High Court on behalf of the people of Oinam Village and its surrounding villages in October 1987. After five years, in 1992 the Guwahati High Court completed the hearing of the NPMHR's petition but has kept the judgement reserved so far. (Souvenir Nagalim -50 Years of Resistance, op.cit., 60).

To be continued ....

* Maireiwon Ningshen wrote this article which was published at Imphal Times
This article was webcasted on March 15 2021.

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