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Appeal to India’s Prime Minister to Intervene in Manipur to Defuse Tensions

7 May 2010

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The following is an appeal to India’s PM by a group of concerned citizens, their press release, in view of the police firing on civilians in the Naga areas of Manipur for having gathered to welcome the NSCN (IM) leader, Th Muivah, who was to visit his native village in Manipur.

May 5, 2010

To

Dr Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister of India

New Delhi

Fax No. 23016857


Subject: Appeal to intervene and defuse the current situation honourably and allow Mr Th Muivah to visit his home town in Manipur

Dear Dr Manmohan Singh,

We write to you as democratic rights activists, trade unionists, women’s rights groups, student groups and other concerned citizens to express our deep concern at the heightened tensions and military presence over the last few days in Manipur and Nagaland, following the Manipur Government’s decision not to allow the visit to the NSCN(IM), leader, Mr Th Muivah, to his hometown and other Naga areas in the State.

We believe that the visit to Mr Th Muivah was planned with the Government of India allowing it. But the decision of the Government of Manipur not to allow the visit has created a potentially dangerous situation that directly negates the spirit of the Naga Peace Talks over the last 13 years. The sudden deployment of large numbers of security forces at the State borders, the unprovoked destruction of traditional welcome gates by the forces, and the total blockage of transit of all travellers from Nagaland to Manipur has triggered panic and insecurity among the local people and unnecessarily heightened tensions between different communities in the region.

As you are well aware, such actions by the State will inevitably also impact the many efforts being made by all communities to promote peace and understanding in the region over the years.

We urge you stand by your recent statements that you hope to reach an amicable solution to the Naga Peace Process very soon. It is imperative that you intervene to defuse the current situation honourably and allow Mr Th Muivah to visit his hometown and other Naga areas in Manipur without any further delay.

Signed by: Surendra Mohan; Tapan K. Bose; Kamal Mitra Chenoy; D. Thankappan; Rita Manchanda; E. Deenadayalan; Ravi Hemadri; Vani Subramanium; Bela Bhatia; Jatin Desai; Sukumar Muralidharan; Dunu Roy; Anuradha Chenoy; Samuel Jaykumar; Nityanand Jayaraman; Uma Chakravarthy; Sabha Hussain; Sumanto Banerjee; Sumit Chakravartty

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PRESS RELEASE

May 6, 2010

New Delhi

We condemn in unequivocal terms the firing and use of tear gas on the Naga people today (May 6, 2010) at Mao Gate, Manipur, assembled, there to welcome their leader, Mr Muivah, to visit his native village and other Naga areas in Manipur. Two persons have been killed in indiscriminate firing by the Manipur IRB and several others seriously injured.

The deployment of large numbers of security forces at the State borders, the unprovoked destruction of traditional welcome gates by the forces, and the total blockage of transit of all travellers from Nagaland to Manipur has triggered panic and insecurity among the local people and unnecessarily heightened tensions between different communities in the region.

We believe that the visit of Mr Th Muivah was planned with Government of India allowing it. But the illegal action of the Government of Manipur not to allow the visit has created a potentially dangerous situation that directly negates the spirit of the Naga Peace Talks over the last 13 years.

Reportedly the GOI’s Home Ministry has asked the Naga leader to cancel his proposed visit. This kind of flip-flop by the GOI is not helping the Indo-Naga Peace Process to move forward at all. The same kind of attitude was witnessed in 2001 when the ceasefire between the GOI and NSCN(IM) was extended ‘without territorial limits’. At the core of the opposition of Manipur to the Indo-Naga Peace Talks is the demand for integration of all Naga areas into one administrative unit. However, the promise of integrating all Naga areas dates back to the 1964 Agreement between the Federal Government of Nagaland and the GOI. The same promise was made again in the 1975 Shillong Accord between the GOI and Underground Nagas.

Presently, the blockade of transport of goods and people from the Imphal valley to the hills and at the Nagaland-Manipur border has caused great hardships to ordinary people.

We urge the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to keep to his recent statements that he hoped to reach an amicable solution to the Naga Peace Process very soon. It is imperative that the GOI intervenes to defuse the current situation honourably and allow Mr Th Muivah to visit his hometown and other Naga areas in Manipur without any further delay. This will pave the way for an honourable settlement of the Naga issue.

We call upon Okram Ibobi Singh, the Chief Minister of Manipur, to desist from use of force against the Naga people and withdraw the Cabinet decision not to allow Mr Muivah to visit Manipur. This short-sighted and highly partisan decision may escalate into a full fledged communal conflict between different communities in the State. The Government of Manipur should work together with the GOI to amicably settle the decades-old Naga issue.

We also call upon all sides to lift the ban on movement of goods and people in Manipur.

Signatories: Surendra Mohan; Tapan K. Bose; Kamal Mitra Chenoy; D. Thankappan; Rita Manchanda; E. Deenadayalan; Ravi Hemadri; Vani Subramanium; Sela Bhatia; Jatin Desai; Sukumar Muralidharan; Dunu Roy; Anuradha Chenoy; Samuel Jaykumar; Nityanand Jayaraman; Uma Chakravarthy; Sabha Hussain; Sumanto Banerjee; Sumit Chakravartty