Following the arrest of Manipur human rights activist, Dr Mark Thangmang Haokip by the state police in Delhi on Tuesday, a protest was held on Wednesday at Kangpokpi town demanding his release.
Dr Mark Thangmang Haokip (37), son of M Limkhosei Haokip of Churachandpur’s Molnom village is the president of the International Human Rights Association Manipur Chapter.
A team of Manipur police led by SI Ch Somorjit Singh arrested the human rights activist from his temporary Kishangarh, Delhi residence on Tuesday at around 2:30 pm in connection with three FIR registered against him last year, viz. FIR No 60(4)2021 IPS, FIR No 108(7)2021, and FIR No 205(11)2021.
The arrest was made the day after the International Human Rights Association Manipur Chapter, and its Sadar Hills and Tengnoupal District branch condemned the FIRs against its president and demanded immediate revocation.
Mentioned may be made that the Federation of Haomee (FoH) and Kangleipak Kanba Lup (KKL) had reportedly filed an FIR against the IHRA Manipur Chapter president Dr Mark Thangmang Haokip for his alleged inciting of communal enmity on social media handles, including Facebook posts.
Earlier on Sunday, May 22, the Officer-in-Charge of Churachandpur Police Station summoned the IHRA Manipur Chapter president to appear before the Investigation Officer, Churachandpur for recording a statement in connection with FIR No 74(07)2022 CCP-PS u/s 153-A/505(2) IPS based on the complaint/information of Manipur police cop, Inspector Thangzamuan in July last.
The summon had invited a massive protest in front of the Churachandpur Police Station led by the IHRA Youth Wing resulting in the arrest of around five of the protesters.
The arrest of IHRA Manipur Chapter president Dr Mark Thangmang Haokip on Tuesday witnessed a massive protest rally in various parts of the hill districts on Wednesday, including Churachandpur, and Sadar Hills Kangpokpi district.
At Kangpokpi, hundreds of protesters congregated at Brigadier M Thomas ground in protest against the arrest of the IHRA Manipur Chapter President and demanded his unconditional immediate release.
The protestors also shouted slogans, “Release Dr Mark Haokip”, and hold placards that read, “Is the Constitution still alive”, “We fight for Justice, not unlawful arrest”, Justice for Dr. Mark”, “Where is Law?”, “Where is equality”, etc.
Meanwhile, prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC have been clamped in and around Brig M Thomas Ground Kangpokpi by Additional District Magistrate following a report of SP Kangpokpi about the apprehension of violence and breach of law and orders in the locality restricting gathering of more than four people in the area and carrying lethal weapons.
Following the prohibitory orders, Kangpokpi police led by Addl.SP(LO) Kangpokpi Tholu Rocky, Addl. SP(Ops) Kangpokpi Abul Kalam, and DSP Gamnom Saparmeina Police Station, Sheimang Khongsai under the diplomatic supervision of SP Kangpokpi Amrita Sinha swiftly monitored the situation and averted any undesirable atmosphere in a very tactful way.
The savoir faire art of the Kangpokpi police in dealing with the infuriated protesters curtailed the protest after allowing a few leaders from the protestors to submit their representation addressed to the Governor of Manipur to the District Magistrate/DC Kangpokpi.
The representation was submitted in the name of the Committee on Protection of Tribal Rights Manipur (COPTRM).
The committee, in its representation, apprised the Governor of the arrest of the IHRA Manipur Chapter President and appealed for his immediate release.
It stated that the Indian Penal Code IPC 153(A) has gravely been misused by the State Government in the arrest of Dr. Mark Thangmang Haokip and the arrest at most is an apparent bias of the Government against the Kuki’s which is implicit in the majoritarian shift of the Manipur government towards a Meitei-centric government.
It alleged that essentially, the Federation of Haomee and Kangleipak Kanba Lup were the groups who incited hatred toward minority tribes in the State but were neither summoned nor arrested for instigating hatred and communal animosity in the state while alleging that they run their propaganda freely and are guaranteed freedom of speech and expression without limitation while the tribals in Manipur are glued only to listen and this is the case that led to the arrest of Dr. Mark Thangmang Haokip.
It also said that the case against Dr. Mark Thangmang Haokip is unambiguously a fitting reply about the call of Kukis as Foreigners and Refugees while adding that the statement made by Dr. Mark is with valid historical documentation on Kuki peoples and their land rights based upon the Manipur Merger Agreement with the Indian Union, by which the then King of Manipur Maharajah Bodha Chandra ceded his territory of 700 sq. miles of Imphal Valley, but the rulers of the Hill Chiefs and Headmen never signed any merger agreement with Indian Union.
“Primarily, the arrest, therefore, is an infringement upon the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression under the constitution of India article 19 (1) (a)”, it stated and apprised the Governor to acknowledge the unlawful arrest of Mark Thangmang Haokip and advise his immediate release.
It also appealed to the Governor to stop all derogatory statements against the Kukis by the non-tribal communities terming Kukis as Foreigner and Refugees as it should be a punishable offense under the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955.
Speaking to the media, Mangboi Haokip, Convenor of the Committee on Protection of Tribal Rights Manipur said that it was the fitting reply of Dr. Mark Thangmang Haokip to the Federation of Haomee and Kangleipak Kanba Lup sinister designed in tagging the Kukis as Foreigner and Refugees which led to his arrest.
He alleged that the Federation of Haomee and Kangleipak Kanba Lup was responsible for inciting communal hatred in the state and urged the Government to book them under relevant laws.
Meanwhile, Kuki Women Union Sadar Hills President, Mawinu said that the arrest of IHRA Manipur Chapter Dr. Mark Thangmang Haokip clearly shows that there is no meaning of “Chingmi Tammi Amatani” under the present Manipur Government.
While appealing to the government for the unconditional release of Dr Mark Thangmang Haokip, the Kuki Women Union Sadar Hills President said that if he is not released at the earliest the Kuki women will initiate a large-scale mass protest in the state.
Lalboi Haokip, a member of the IHRA Youth Wing sought immediate intervention of the BJP central leaders for the unconditional release of Dr. Mark Thangmang Haokip and revocation of all the FIR against him.
A massive protest rally was also held at the Chingdai area in Kangpokpi district demanding the unconditional immediate release of the IHRA Manipur Chapter President.