Kasom tense as Army refuses to back off

UKHRUL, 24th Apr: Simmering tension resurfaced in Kasom Khullen sub-division after massive presence of Assam Rifles troops in Bungdung village alerted local womenfolk to block the village roadway on Thursday. Subsequently, a confrontation between the security forces and the womenfolk ensued for the second day on Friday.
Meanwhile, an official meeting was reportedly held at the village with a team of Manipur Police representing the government and Ukhrul district's civil society organisations (CSOs) on the public's side. However, the meeting failed to make any breakthrough in the ongoing standoff, with the Assam Rifles reluctant to back off even as womenfolk stood resolute on blocking entry of the troops in the area.
However, talks between the two sides to end the impasse are likely to be continued on Saturday, sources informed.
According to reports, Assam Rifles troops entered Bungdung village on Thursday in an attempt to cross the village and conduct raids on NSCN-IM hideouts in the border areas.
The police team and security forces had left Hongbei but were likely to halt at camps at Somrei or Khoiripok villages, sources said, adding that further talks are expected on Saturday to sort out the confrontation. Meanwhile, CSO leaders led by Tangkhul Naga Long (TNL) president Hopingson Shimray and Tangkhul Shanao Long (TSL) president Veronica Zingkhai remained in the village.
Fearing unwanted consequences from possible armed confrontations and also considering the ongoing lockdown over COVID19, the local womenfolk came out in huge numbers and blocked the roadway to bar the troops from proceeding beyond the village.
The women folks had blocked the village tri-junction which is about 45 km from Bungdung village and were keeping vigil at Hongbei village which continue overnight by holding burning torch till the time of filing the report.
Earlier, in the day, around 25 vehicles carrying a team of Manipur Police, including women personnel, led by IG IK Muivah, along with DIG Kabib, deputy COC Cecelia from IRB, Assam Rifles were stopped by the local women at the village junction.
Women folks had decried the military move wherein a massive number of security forces flooded into the village areas, in view of the ongoing lockdown period.
It may be recalled that tension had erupted in Kasom area in March after a large number of Assam Rifles troops besieged several villages including Hongbei village. As the decision of the meeting became public, the locals of the area, especially women, decided to block the tri-junction road and continue with their protest.
As a part of their protest, a large number of women came out on the streets, braving the cold weather due to the incessant rains, and took out a torch rally to press for their demands on Friday evening.
As per reports, the situation at Kashung Bungdung village in the southern part of Ukhrul district in Manipur became tense on Thursday when troops of Assam Rifles tried to advance beyond the village. On Friday, Army personnel and local women continued to be at loggerheads at Honpei village, around 50 km from Bungdung Kashung, since 10 in the morning. Various Naga civil organisations, led by Tangkhul Naga Long’s (TNL) Hopingson Shimray and Tangkhul Shanao Long’s (TSL) Veronica Zingkhai were on the spot to oversee the situation.
As per reports, the locals at Honpei have completely blocked the road for armed forces to proceed beyond the village.
Earlier on Thursday, a massive public outcry, especially among women, was witnessed at Kashung Bungdung village after troops of Assam Rifles tried to advance beyond the village, reportedly without announcement, to raid NSCN-IM hideouts in the border villages, said sources.
However, to avoid any obstacle from the locals, the troops did not disclose their purpose of patrolling the area or deployment of additional security forces along the border villages, except routine sighting to oversee the law and order enforcement in the periphery.
Around 300 women of Kashung Bungdung came out of their homes and stopped the troops from crossing the village to avoid any unwanted incidents to take place, especially when the whole country is fighting against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the women at the standoff said that they won’t tolerate such attitude from the Army or the administration at a time when the whole world continues to fight the novel coronavirus and trying to save humanity from the pandemic.
(With inputs from EastMojo)

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