Demanding protection of Manipur's unity and integrity in the light of the purported threat posed to the state's territorial integrity owing to the Framework Agreement signed between the Government of India and National Socialist Council of Nagaland- Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), the United Committee Manipur (UCM), a conglomeration of various valley-based civil bodies, staged a mass rally in Imphal on Wednesday.
About one lakh people from various ethnic groups, including students, politicians and civil society members took part in the ‘October Mass Rally, 2018’, shouting slogan as they passed through Imphal city.
As per reports, a large number of people gathered at Tiddim Ground, Kwakeithel from where the rally began, chanting slogans such as “No extension of Article 371 A in Manipur”, “No compromise in Manipur’s boundary”, “Long live Manipur”. Demonstrators also held placards that read “Let Manipur Live and grow together”, “Article 371 A or 6th schedule will not be allowed implementation”, “Manipur shall stand as it is, we want Manipur to stay as it is, Let it continue being Manipur as it is”, among others.
Passing through different streets of the city, the rally converged at the Khuman Lampak sports complex. Educational institutes and most private establishments remained closed for the day while passenger services stayed off roads to enable people to participate in the rally, said local reports. Market places in other valley districts also wore a deserted look.
A public meeting held after the rally unanimously passed a three-point resolution reitering that the ethnic culture, political, social, historical, economic identity and the integrity of Manipur will never be compromised; Article 371 (A) or a similar Bill and autonomous regional council must not be extended inside the territorial boundary of Manipur. And if government of India and Manipur government go against the interests of citizens, the people will take "independent decisions to save Manipur."
UCM President Sunil Karam said the mass rally was a part of the sustained civil movement against any attempt to disintegrate Manipur and it was not directed against any community or organisation.
“It is a show of the people’s resolve to safeguard Manipur and determine their own future,” he said, accusing the Central government and NSCN-IM of trying to 'divide and rule' ethnic groups for the last 21 years. With the agreement signed between central government and NSCN-IM in 2001 under the term “without territorial limit”, 18 people were martyred to save the integrity of Manipur, he said, adding that if issue re-arises then a more "ferocious form of agitation might come to save the integrity."
It is also reported that about 4,000 members of Universal Friendship Organisation (UFO) formally known as Satjal and about 100 differently-abled persons from Disabled Development Association Manipur also took part in the mammoth rally.
On the contrary, Naga areas in the hill districts of Manipur observed a total shutdown, demanding a settlement of the Naga political issue at the earliest. The shutdown was imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC) from 6 a.m to 6 p.m. Inter-district and inter-village transport services remained paralysed due to the shutdown in the Naga areas, including Chandel, Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Senapati districts.