Villagers in Manipur take up guns to counter militant menace

Villagers alleged that they have been suffering atrocities for the past many years at the hands of some cadres of KNO/KLA.

Imphal: Unable to bear persistent harassment at the hands of militants, residents of Nongshum village have not only armed themselves with licensed guns but have also devised a mechanism of guarding the village day and night on rotation basis.

Located in Khundrakpam Assembly segment in Imphal East district, Nongshum village has around 65 households with a total population of 300. It is alleged that they have been suffering atrocities for the past many years at the hands of some cadres of KNO/KLA, which is a signatory of the Suspension of Operation (SoO) pact.

Sagolsem Mema, Advisor of Nongshum Chaokhat Khongthang Nupi, said that the harassment by the militants had crossed all limits.

"Two years back we had face a big problem. After that incident there was case where a boy was kidnapped by them. And later they again came and destroyed many houses even beat the villagers including aged persons, women and children. We have requested their village representatives to discuss the matter, and clarify why these armed militants are sent in our village. We sent intimation but they never turned up," she said.

"So we have blocked the road since yesterday and will not allow them to pass through our village road. If they did not turn up and response to our invitation, we will intensify our agitation further more. Government has not address our grievances, we have reported to the army, instead of helping us they supported them as they are under SoO and charged us on false allegations," she added.

She further accused security forces of not providing ample security to their village.

"How can we live, the village is also a small village having only 40- 50 households and are earning their livelihood hand to mouth. Even after all these harassment Indian army is taking on their side. Even when the State police do come they went away doing nothing. Now we are ready to sacrifice our lives for our survival. If they kill us let them kill and if we kill them we will do. As we cannot leave our children alone, we have been guarding them since last night. We are compelled and forced to stay here leaving our daily work. We will lift the road blockade if they come and negotiate and resolve the matter otherwise we will carry on blocking the road," she said.

Konjengbam Ibungobi, convener of the JAC against the torture of Nongshum Village by KNO/KLA, echoed similar views and said that they have been suffering all kinds of harassment and humiliation at the hands of KNO/KLA cadres.

Sometimes security forces turned against the villagers on the false charge of sheltering militants, Ibungobi said.

The militant cadres dismantled houses, physically assaulted villagers, threaten and extort money, he alleged.

When some KNO/KLA cadres attempted to abduct a few labourers engaged in a PMGSY work, Nongshum villagers chased away the militants by opening fire, thereby defeating their nefarious design.

Nonetheless, the villagers are apprehensive that the militants may come back and they decided to keep vigil around the village for self-protection.

Even earlier, KNO/KLA cadres have committed several unlawful and criminal activities in and around the village. Even though police, paramilitary forces and army were reported about these incidents, no befitting action was initiated.

Yet, Nongshum villagers controlled their rage and somehow maintained peace by holding joint meetings with chiefs of the surrounding hill villages.

Apart from taking up self-defence measures, the villagers have been protesting the alleged persistent harassment by imposing indefinite bandh on Imphal-Khamenlok and Imphal-Khongbal roads.

( Source : PTI )
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