Exerting pressure on the Manipur government to intensify measures to retrieve the bodies of Phijam Hemanjit and Hijam Linthoingambi, the public on Wednesday demanded to hand over the bodies of the two students within November 3 or that they would take the matter into their own hands.
The move was taken during the observation of the 76th Manipur National Day, commemorating the first sitting of the state assembly session on October 18, 1948 at Ibudhou Ikop Ningthou’s shrine in Khongjom Papal in Thoubal District. The event was organised by Manipur National Day Celebration Committee.
A public discussion on the ‘present status of victims of the affected areas’ was held during the event with social activist Ninhthouja Lancha as the moderator. Attendees took various resolutions which included demanding the state government to hand over the bodies of the two students by November 3, failing which the public will find ways to retrieve the bodies on their own.
The other demands included that the state government must ensure adequate relief allowance to the displaced victims of the ongoing conflict until they can safely return to their own homes; to set an exact time for return and resettlement of the displaced persons; to present a policy programme which includes a deadline for the eradication of poppy plantation to the public.
Attendees also resolved to revoke their cooperation with those showing no devotion to the state and to unite efforts to safeguard the state’s integrity at all costs. They further appealed to those concerned not to use any force against the womenfolk and Meira Paibis who are guarding the village and drew the attention of the public towards the same.
Speaking during the event, Ningthoujam Lancha highlighted the momentous significance of the 76th Manipur National Day observed every year on October 18, adding that the present political dilemma makes it even more important to acknowledge the importance of the day. He recalled that Manipur, which was under the clutches of the mighty British, became an independent state on August 14, 1947, which led to the sitting of the first State Assembly in the presence of the then King Maharaja Budhachandra.
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He reflected on Lamyanba Irabot’s dream of an egalitarian Manipur government and said that the state emerged as the first democratic princely state and republic in South Asia and Southeast Asia. However, Manipur was forcefully annexed to India on September 21, 1949, he added. He stated that the state has been caught in a string of unfortunate incidents for the last 74 years, with even ruthless attempts made to disintegrate the State.
He further alleged the Assam Rifles of siding with the Kuki militants and attempting to annihilate the Meiteis, all under the watchful eye of the Indian government which is allegedly remaining a silent spectator. He maintained that the day was observed with an aim to provide a platform for the affected victims of the conflict to raise their grievances, as well as the families of Hemanjit and Linthoingambi.
Lancha further declared that ‘Resolution Month’ will be observed beginning October 18 till November 27. He said that meetings and discussions will be held with many experts and resolutions will be taken in the interest of the people. He further said that various agitations will be carried out along with the public for an end to the prevailing conflict which will enter six months on November 3. Many experts from various communities also shared their thoughts during the programme.