Ahead of Naga peace deal, Manipuri women demand protection of state’s territorial integrity
The ongoing peace talks between the Centre and Naga rebel groups including the NSCN (IM) and latter’s demand seeking more autonomy and integration of Naga inhabited areas has been a cause of grave concern among the people of Manipur.Updated: Oct 25, 2019 00:01 IST
Women vendors of Imphal’s iconic Ima Keithels (Mothers’ markets) took out a rally in Manipuri capital on Thursday to highlight the need to safeguard the state’s interests and territory amid speculation of an imminent peace deal between the Centre and Naga rebel groups.
The ongoing peace talks between the Centre and Naga rebel groups including the NSCN (IM) and latter’s demand seeking more autonomy and integration of Naga inhabited areas has been a cause of grave concern among the people of Manipur.
The ‘Public alert rally on Peace Talks’ had aimed to move towards the Raj Bhavan and the Chief Minister’s secretariat to submit memorandum. But police stopped them before they could reach their destinations.
The women vendors holding play cards which read ‘Bring solution not problems,’ ‘Give peace no piece,’ ‘We oppose bifurcation of Manipur’ etc, then moved back to the market premises and staged a sit-in and raised slogans to safeguard Manipur’s territorial integrity. The rally which began at 10 am and the subsequent sit-in paralyzed the normal business of the markets for nearly three hours.
Later, around 10 women leaders representing the vendors were allowed to submit a representation enclosing a copy of memorandum each submitted to the Prime Minister on December 10, 2017, to the state Governor at Raj Bhavan Imphal and chief minister separately.
“We welcome the initiatives to bring solutions including finalization of the Naga peace talks. But we are ready to oppose any move (of the government) which affects the interest of Manipur,” said Th Rani, a leader of the vendors. “So both state and centre government should work in the interest of all communities living together since ages,” she said.
The rally was part of the ongoing ‘Cheksin Meepham’ or alert meetings of Coordinating committee on Manipur Integrity (Cocomi), a newly formed joint body of major civil society organizations in the state.
The Naga peace talks began in 1997 after the NSCN (IM), the largest Naga rebel group, when it announced a ceasefire agreement. The talks gained momentum after the Centre and the NSCN (IM) signed the “Framework Agreement” on August 3, 2015.
Earlier on Wednesday, Speaker of the Manipur assembly Y. Khemchand Singh,wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminding him of the state assembly’s resolutions “to reiterate its commitment to safeguarding the territorial integrity of Manipur.”