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Strike, ban for twin demands

Imphal, Aug. 1: The campaign to get prohibitory orders and additional state forces withdrawn from Ukhrul town intensified with the Naga organisations observing an Ukhrul district bandh today and the United Naga Council (INC) deciding to impose a ban on all central projects in Manipur from tomorrow.

UNC, the apex body of Nagas in Manipur, and other organisations of the community have been agitating to force the Okram Ibobi Singh government to withdraw prohibitory orders under Section 133 CrPC and police commandos and India Reserve Battalion (IRB) personnel deployed in Ukhrul town.

The Ibobi Singh government imposed prohibitory orders in Ukhrul town to prevent public protests against the arrest of eight cadres of the NSCN (I-M) and deployed commandos and IRB in the town.

This happened a day after cadres of the NSCN (I-M) allegedly killed a member of the Ukhrul autonomous district council, Ngalangzar Malue, 65, in an ambush on July 12 in the district.

The UNC termed the imposition of prohibitory orders and deployment of police commandos and IRB as an attempt to sabotage the NSCN (I-M) peace talks and also to disturb peace in the district.

The UNC observed a 24-hour strike in all Naga-inhabited areas from July 15 midnight, which was followed by a 48-hour bandh on national highways beginning July 24 midnight. The UNC also sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking the Centre’s intervention into the Ukhrul situation.

The development also provided an opportunity to the UNC to renew its demand for an alternative administrative arrangement for Nagas living in Manipur outside the purview of the Manipur government.

Today’s strike paralysed normal life in Ukhrul district with shops remaining closed and vehicles staying off the road. Functioning in government offices was also affected, official sources said.

The UNC and other Naga groups seem prepared for a protracted agitation in support of their demand to withdraw prohibitory orders and seek additional state forces from Ukhrul town.

However, the Ibobi Singh government is in no mood to withdraw the forces deployed in the wake of the ADC member’s killing.

Official sources said the Union home ministry instructed the state government to deal with the law and order situation in both the hills and the valley with a firm hand.

“The situation in Ukhrul is improving. But we will not withdraw all the commandos and IRB personnel from Ukhrul. Some may be withdrawn for redeployment in the remaining four hill districts,” an official source said.

Commandos and IRB personnel have been deployed in the four valley districts.

The Ibobi Singh government plans to deploy the two state forces in all the five hill districts to deal with the law and order situation.