Children carry placards at the procession. Picture by L. Shamungou
Imphal, July 28: The naked protests in the summer of 2004 came back to haunt Manipur today when schoolchildren stripped to demonstrate against the string of kidnappings since May.
About 15 boys in the age group of four to eight yearsmarched without clothes or only in their briefs in front of a procession taken out by students of three Imphal East schools along DC Road in Porompat to say no to kidnappings.
Exactly four years ago, on July 15, a dozen women shed their clothes and stormed the army base at Kangla Fort to protest against the custodial death of 24-year-old Thangjam Manorama.
Nearly 20 children between 11 and 16 years have been reported either kidnapped or missing since May 1.
The director-general of police, Yumnam Joykumar Singh, said the Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Prepak V-C) and Prepak (GS) groups were recruiting children as they could no longer find older ones.
Women’s organisations, schools and panicky mothers have been holding daily demonstrations and sit-ins for the past couple of weeks, entreating militant groups to spare their children.
More joined the protest today.
The children carried placards which read, “We are minor children”, or “We don’t want to be parted from our mothers” and “We want pens, not guns.”
A large number of students followed the naked children.
“We have heard that militants are recruiting children. We are too young for any such activity. We want to live with our parents and continue to go to school. Please do not abduct us. This is the message we want to send to all concerned by marching naked,” Raman Singh, (name changed) a Class II student, said.
Sit-ins against kidnapping of children continued today in various parts of the valley. There was no fresh report of children going missing today.