TODAY -

Bodies demand release of IPSA, DESAM activists
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, May 10 2021: Various civil society organisations (CSOs) and student bodies have demanded unconditional release of assistant publicity secretary of International Peace and Social Advancement (IPSA) Okram Amarjit alias Thoi and Democratic Students' Alliance of Manipur (DESAM) Thoubal district council vice president Lisham Bijoyraj, who have been arrested by the police on the charge of uploading and commenting on the social media against alleged disrespect shown to religious flag of the Meeteis by some individuals.

In a release, Indigenous People's Association of Kangleipak (IPAK) assistant publicity secretary Khaidem Johnson pointed out that many have been condemning the hindrance given by some individuals in the effort of preserving and conserving the sacred shrine of Ebudhou Koubru atop Mount Koubru, which signifies the culture, identity and history of the indigenes and also the activities that tried to mar the symbolic identity of the indigenes.

The indigenes and those following indigenous religions of their forefathers scaled Mt Kou-bru and planted tree saplings so as to conserve the environment of the hill range and also hoisted religious flags atop it.

However, it is unfortunate that police arrested two people for posting dissenting voices on social media against the destruction caused to the saplings planted and the religious flags hoisted by the pilgrims, he lamented.

Denouncing the arrest of the two who only tried to draw attention of the authorities concerned to check the provocative acts of certain sections of the society instead of arresting the perpetrators who violated Article 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution relating to freedom of religion, Johnson observed the arrest could be construed as backing the criminal elements.

The arrest of Amarjit and Bijoyraj is a violation of Article 19(1)b, 25 and 26 of the Indian constitution, he contended.

Johnson further appealed to authorities concerned to release the arrested duo unconditionally and without any delay.

Drawing the attention of government to protect the sacred shrines of the indigenes located at Mount Koubru and Thangjing, he exhorted the forest department to check deforestation, cultivation of poppy and new settlement in the said areas and further cautioned of taking legal actions if the department fails to take appropriate measure.

"It is highly suspicious that some officers of the forest department frame policy to trigger conflict among the different ethnic tribes and between the hills and the valley", Johnson said, while urging the CM to look into the matter.

In another release, DESAM publicity & propaganda secretary Sh Rishikumar condemned the arrest of the two and also demanded the government to ensure their unconditional release without further delay.

No one on earth could remain silent if the flags hoisted by the pilgrims atop Mount Koubru, which are so dear to them, are disrespected.

Moreover, flags code are framed in every parts of the world and those who disrespect the flags are given harsh punishment, he pointed out, while adding that the arrest of the two for posting dissenting voices against such acts instead of rounding up the anti-social elements is irrational and is extreme on the side of the government.

Rishikumar cautioned of launching intense forms of agitations along with different organisations if government fails to release the two unconditionally.

In separate releases, Kanglei Ima Lup and Kongba Maru Laipham-lel Apunba Semgat Lup appealed to the government for releasing Amarjit and Bijoyraj without any condition at the earliest.

The release pondered whether is it right to arrest those who reported the destruction of saplings planted atop the sacred Mt Koubru and the religious flags hosted in it instead of identifying the culprits involved and arresting them.

It also further demanded to declare Koubru range as a protected site under the Historical Monument Act so as to preserve the tranquillity of the sacred shrine and also to conserve the environment.


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