Imphal, June 14: Manipur braced for turmoil both in the hills and the valley with the Okram Ibobi Singh government today deciding to ban the Naga “unification rallies” on Thursday and all outdoor programmes on the fourth anniversary of the June uprising two days later.
The cabinet also resolved to counter the bandh called by the United Naga Council (UNC) in the hill districts from midnight on June 20.
The UNC planned rallies in the four hill districts of Senapati, Tamenglong, Chandel and Ukhrul after the Ibobi government declared a general holiday on the anniversary of the 2001 uprising against Delhi’s decision ' revoked later ' to extend its ceasefire with the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) beyond Nagaland.
What came as a surprise was the government’s decision to also ban the outdoor programme organised by the United Committee, Manipur (UCM), which had spearheaded the June uprising. The function at Kekrupat was to be a major event to reaffirm the state’s determination to safeguard its territorial integrity.
The cabinet, however, did not clamp any restriction on programmes inside auditoriums or halls. People are also free to visit Kekrupat, where the memorial to those killed during the June uprising is located, to pay floral tributes. However, nobody will be allowed to stay back at the site after laying wreaths.
“The decision to ban the Naga rallies and the public function at Kekrupat was taken after reviewing the situation in the state. Ever since the Nagas announced the rallies and a bandh, Manipur has been tense and the government’s move is to prevent any untoward development. It is in the interests of all,” a cabinet minister said.
The UCM has been organising functions at Kekrupat on each anniversary of the June uprising.
In an unrelated development, the NSCN (Khaplang) described the UNC’s decision to organise unification rallies in Manipur as an unwarranted move influenced by the Isak-Muivah group.
A spokesperson for the NSCN(K)’s Zeliangrong unit told the media in Senapati district this afternoon that the proposed rally and the subsequent bandh could create more parochialism within Manipur. “If the rallies are in the interest of all Nagas living in Manipur, why should these be restricted to the hill districts'”
There are a large number of Nagas in the valley, too. The UNC has become a puppet in the NSCN (I-M)’s hands.”