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Manipur rises in cry for integration

Imphal, June 18: Manipur reverberated with slogans for “emotional integration” and “equal development of the hills and the valley” on the third anniversary of the June uprising. It had begun as a protest against extension of the Naga ceasefire beyond Nagaland and developed into a fierce campaign for territorial integrity.

The government and various non-governmental organisations conducted a slew of programmes to commemorate the uprising. The Okram Ibobi Singh ministry even declared a holiday and urged people to observe the occasion as “Manipur Integrity Day”.

The United Committee, Manipur (UCM), which spearheaded the agitation, was generous in its tributes to the 18 protesters who were killed in firing by security forces. The All Manipur United Clubs Organisation (Amuco), another influential organisation, did likewise.

A blood donation camp was conducted jointly by the blood bank at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences and the Voluntary Helpline Committee, Imphal.

All shops and other commercial establishments at the main market complex of the state capital remained closed throughout the day. Vehicles were off the road, too.

The UCM had organised its programme at Kekrupat, the Imphal locality where all 18 “martyrs” of the agitation were cremated. The Amuco function was at the Gandhi Memorial Hall.

On this day in 2001, people protesting the erstwhile Atal Bihari Vajpayee government’s decision to extend the ceasefire set fire to several government buildings, including the chief minister’s secretariat and the Assembly secretariat.

Leaders of various communities addressed the commemorative functions organised by the UCM and the Amuco. Some of them spoke of the need for emotional integration of different communities living in the state, while leaders from the hill districts said equal development of all areas should be given top priority.

“Integrity slogans and rallies will not bring about emotional integration of all communities. Equal development of all communities and mutual respect are the first requirements,” one of the leaders said.

Security forces deployed in Manipur came in for flak.

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