PRJA stages sit-in protest at Phayeng
IMPHAL | Oct 9 : Peoples’ Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) along with Apunba Meira Paibi members staged a sit-in protest today afternoon at Phayeng Bazar in protest against the arrest of Popilal Ningthoujam, who is also a member of PRJA.
Popilal was arrested for participating in the ‘Egg Protest’ organised by PRJA on September 27 at Thangmeiband, against the MU military raid by paramilitary and state armed forces on September 21.
The protestors raised many slogans and were witnessed holding placards that read ‘Release Popilal without conditions’, ‘Stop Political persecution’, ‘Down with dictatorship’ and ‘Resolve MU crisis amicably’ amongst others.
Parents, teachers and other residents of Phayeng strongly condemned not only the arrest of Popilal but also the manner in which he was arrested. Popilal was teaching children in a classroom when he was arrested.
Terming the incident as traumatsing for the students, the parents and teacher association and local Meira Paibi leaders demanded that the state government under whose direction a Suo Moto FIR was filed against Popilal along with Manipur University (MU) teachers, students and other activists, to release them without any conditions at the earliest.
Speaking at today’s protest, convener of PRJA, Erendro Leichombam said, “We have joined the people of Phayeng to protest the arrest of Popilal. Freedom of Speech and the right to protest are Fundamental rights, and the current government should not forget that we are working in a democratic setup not in a dictatorship like North Korea. I therefore demand that PRJA leader Popilal Ningthoujam, along with all those arrested, be released as soon as possible without any conditions.”
“This government has clearly failed to hear the voice of the people and there are many people in every part of the state raising their objections against the manner in which the BJP led government has chosen to deal with the MU crisis and other key issues in the state”, he continued while alleging that the government target only the seemingly weak, new, and small political activists such as PRJA.
He also said, “This is clear political persecution of PRJA for exercising our right to speech, and right to disagree but the BJP fear other bigger political forces such as the Congress. The government arrested a young emerging leader like Popilal but failed to do anything against other bigger politicians such as Okram Ibobi, who is also vocal about his disagreement with the present government, yet they could not arrest and jail Ibobi while they arrested Popilal.” It is dictatorial and quite shameful, Erendro added.
Mairi Paibi president, Angom Tomalei also expressed strong condemnations over the nature of Popilal’s arrest stating that even during the previous government’s period, many effigies were burnt in protests but never has anyone been arrested for throwing eggs as a form of protest.
“Popilal should be released as soon as possible or else we the mothers of Phayeng will resort to all sorts of democratic protests and agitation,” she added.
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