| A deserted Ukhrul town during the 48-hour strike called by the UNC. Picture by UB Photos |
Imphal, Aug. 10: The United Naga Council (UNC) today announced that it would boycott the Independence Day functions in Manipur to mount further pressure on the Centre to consider its demand for an alternative administrative arrangement for Nagas living in the state.
The UNC, the apex body of Nagas in the state, has been agitating since July 13 to protest deployment of police commandos and India Reserve Battalion (IRB) personnel in Ukhrul.
The Okram Ibobi Singh government had rushed about 500 police commandos and IRB personnel to Ukhrul in order to prevent public protests against the arrest of eight NSCN (Isak-Muivah) cadres from an office of the outfit located in Ukhrul on July 13.
The raid at the outfit office followed the killing of Ngalangzar Malue, 65, member of Ukhrul autonomous district council, in an ambush carried out allegedly by NSCN (I-M) cadres on July 12 in Ukhrul district, while he was on a visit in the district.
The district administration also promulgated prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC in Ukhrul town indefinitely from 7am on July 13 to foil public protests against the arrests.
The eight cadres are now in jail custody.
The state government recently withdrew some of the police commandos and IRB personnel from the town. However, the presence of commandos and IRB personnel continues in Ukhrul.
The announcement of the boycott of Independence Day came after a 10-day “ban” on all national projects taken up in Manipur, which ends at 6am tomorrow.
The “ban” is a continuation of the council’s agitation launched in the wake of the deployment of commandos and IRB personnel in the district.
The UNC termed the deployment of security forces “militarization” of Ukhrul by the state government, which the council also termed “communal”.
The “ban” followed a 24-hour bandh in all Naga-inhabited areas from midnight of July 15, which was followed by a 48-hour bandh on national highways from midnight on July 24.
The UNC also sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention into the Ukhrul situation.
It had announced the “ban” after there was no response from the Centre.
“To take forward the demand, after the completion of the 10-day ban on construction on all national projects at 6am on August 11, it has been decided that the Naga people in Manipur will not associate with the observation of Independence Day organised by the district administrations under the aegis of the government of Manipur,” the council said in a statement.
The statement, however, said there would be no restriction on observing Independence Day by institutions.
The UNC has directed all hohos, Naga frontal and regional organisations to ensure that the abstention is effectively observed in their respective areas.