Widespread protests demand withdrawal of AR
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, August 07 2023: Meira Paibis held widespread protest demonstrations demanding removal of the entire Assam Rifles from Manipur today.

The protest demonstrations, spearheaded and held by the womenfolk across valley districts, denounced the security force for using "excessive" force against peaceful protesters at Phou-gakchao Ikhai in Bishnupur district on August 3 where more than 25 women were injured.

The womenfolk were protesting a proposed mass burial of Kuki "militants" killed in the conflict at Torbung Bangla which got stalled after the High Court intervened.

Widespread protests demand withdrawal of AR
Widespread protests demand withdrawal of AR

Significantly, the Assam Rifles, accused of taking side with Kuki militants amid the current tension, has been a "controversial" figure since the beginning of the violent conflict on May 3 .

Almost all sections of the Meitei community, specially the Meira Paibis have accused the Assam Rifles of "acting solely in the interests of the Kuki militants under Suspension of Operation" .

The Assam Rifles have been accused of not protecting the Meitei civilians when they were fired at and attacked by Kuki militants.

Based on a video footage widely shared on social media, the Meira Paibis have recently accused the AR of allowing armed Kuki women to move freely amid the tension.

Moreover, the Assam Rifles have faced public backlash on many occasions for obstructing Manipur police and commandos from performing their duties amid the crisis.

In early June, the Assam Rifles had faced backlash as it blocked the gates of Sugnu police station using military vehicles leading to a tense face-off with the State police.

Another tense face-off broke out on August 5 when Bishnupur police was stopped by Assam Rifles when the former was responding to the murder of three people at Kwakta.

Meanwhile, the protest demonstrations held today saw womenfolk raising slogans and holding placards against the Assam Rifles.

The protest demonstrations were filled with placards that read "Long Live Manipur", "Go back Assam Rifles" and "Remove Assam Rifles" .

Demonstrations were held in different parts of the State capital at Khwairamband Keithel, along Uripok- Kangchup road, Thangmeiband, Sagolband, Tera, Tiddim Road, Keishampat, Wangkhei, Kongba, Telipati, Khurai, Chingmeirong, Konthoujam Lamkhai, Porompat DC Road, Singjamei and other places.

Protesters at Wangkhei Andro Parking burnt effigy of an AR officer, who is seen "celebrating" with Kuki women in a viral video.

Womenfolk at Telipati burnt the effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister N Biren and BJP Manipur Pradesh president A Sharda Devi.

The protesters demanded removal of Assam Rifles and immediate implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to identify and deport illegal immigrants/infiltrators from Myanmar and other countries.

Genuine citizens, be it Kuki or any other communities, need not worry about the NRC.

If they are genuine citizens of India as they claimed to be, then why should they oppose NRC, said a womenfolk.

A protester at Khwairamband Keithel lamented that the Prime Minister lacks true empathy and concern for what is happening in Manipur.

While the PM had "selectively" expressed concern about the incident in which two women were paraded nude, he has not spoken a word on the actual crisis and other crimes that have been committed against the other (Meitei) community.

Kuki militants had recently killed three Meitei men who were sleeping at their homes at Kwakta.

This happened despite the presence of Assam Rifles in the area for security.

While the AR should be held responsible for allowing the brutal murders to happen, the PM has not spoken on this.

The Prime Minister is blind to all the other crimes except against the two women, she said.

She also accused the Chief Minister and State BJP president A Sharda of acting to the tune of the Central leaderships and denounced them of not doing anything concrete on the ground to control the Kuki militants.

While the Kuki SoO militants are supposed to be in their designated camps, they are venturing out in the presence of the Assam Rifles, who are supposed to restrain them, and are killing innocent people and wreaking havoc night and day, the protester said.

The SoO militants, she said, are terrorists for wreaking havoc on the civilians.

Miles away from their designated camps, they are now occupying Meitei settlements well inside Bishnupur district.

They have carried out attacks and killed civilians while the Central Government and the State Government do nothing to control them and drive them away, she said.

Another protester asserted that the Kuki militants have clearly violated all provisions/clauses of the Suspension of Operation (SoO) Agreement, and the Central Government has allowed them (Kuki militants) to go berserk, attack and kill innocent Meitei villagers in the foothills.

"If the Centre is not able to enforce the SoO Agreement, why sign them? For violating the terms alone, the Centre should have, months ago, scrap the SoO," she said.

The protester further stressed and asserted that the SoO agreement must not become a safe haven for the Kuki militants, whose citizenships are in question, to get impunity against the numerous crimes, murders that they have committed against genuine Indian citizens.

The protesters demanded the Government of India to act responsibly to safeguard the indigenous people and take action against Kuki militants.

The Assam Rifles, they said, are "biased" and it should be removed from Manipur.

If the Centre can't bring a solution, then the Manipur Merger Agreement should be reviewed, they said.

Even as a large number of security forces were seen on the streets of Imphal, the protest demonstrations concluded peacefully without any untoward incidents or confrontations.

Similar protest demonstrations were held in all valley districts.

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