Police in Manipur have arrested United Naga Council (UNC) President Gaidon Kamei and UNC Information Secretary Stephen Lamkang from Pheidinga area Imphal West district, on charges of them spearheading the indefinite economic blockade on the national highways in the northeastern region.
The Forum for Understanding the Naga-India Conflict and Human Rights (FUNICH) has condemned the state government for its discriminatory action against Naga people by arresting its tallest civil apex body leader.
"The state government must know that the United Naga Council (UNC) President, Gaidon Kamei, represents the voice of all the Nagas whose areas fall within the state jurisdiction of Manipur on issue of land, Naga culture, tradition and customary law. It is unfortunate that the state government arrested the leader for asserting the inherent indigenous peoples' rights of the Naga people in Manipur state," said the statement.
"The Manipur state government clearly knows that the ongoing blockade in the hill districts of Manipur state, especially in the four Naga inhabited hill districts, is the direct result of the state government attempt to address issue of Sadar Hills and Jiribam disregarding previous Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Naga Civil bodies and Governments of India and the State. Rather than addressing the issue democratically, State Government imprisoning the Naga leader amount to State inability to address genuine concerns of the people inhabiting within the State jurisdiction. If at all the State Government is serious on the issue, taking the confidence of all the stakeholders is expected. However, in the present case, the State Government has completely ignored the voice of all the stakeholders," added the statement.
Many Naga civil societies, human rights organizations, scholars and students and many like-minded people has strongly condemned the arrest of UNC President and its information secretary Stephen Lamkang by the Manipur state police in view of imposing the economic blockade in the state.
Further the statement said that "Manipur state government actions to address the issue of Sardar Hill and Jiribam is nothing more than a political gimmick to come back to power in the State. This is not the first time that the State Government under the Congress Party leadership has played communal politics in the State on the issue related to land when election is nearing, yet the issue remains. It means that the state government or the Congress Party is not serious at all to resolve the issue but rather using it for its own political mileage."
The statement also mentioned that "the State Government is playing with the emotion of the hill peoples as well the valley peoples by creating communal tension. The state government instead of creating conducive environment for dialogue and discussion amongst the stakeholders, it is busy creating social tensions amongst various ethnic communities with clear intention to come back to power."
The statement alleged that the State Government rationalize the plan for Sadar Hill and Jiribam district creation purely on administrative convenience.
FUNICH press release also added that "if we look at the map of the proposed Sadar Hill District, it looks like Octopus tentacles touching every Hill Districts. Hence, if it is for the sake of administrative convenience, it will be much better off if those hill areas are integrated with Tamenglong, Chandel and Ukhrul Districts of the hill districts. As for the Jiribam, Manipur Governments never had a problem of putting Jiribam within Imphal East district administration for this many years although it is more than 100 KM away from the Imphal East district headquarter passing through Tamenglong District. If we go by logic and common sense it should be part of Tamenglong district or should have been within Churachapur district, but this was never an issue."
"Therefore, no amount of excuses will justify the action of State Government arresting leader of the most respected traditional social institution of the Nagas in the State. Therefore, the Forum appeals the State Government and Centre Government for unconditional and immediate release of the Naga leader for lasting peaceful co-existence of various ethnic communities in the State," said the press release.
Many Naga organizations, civil societies and student organizations have demanded his immediate release without any condition to avert any ugly fall outs.
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