70 injured as cops clash with Muivah supporters

Posted by on May 6th, 2010 and filed under Terrorism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Imphal, May 6 (IANS) At least 70 tribal Nagas, most of them women, were injured Thursday in a border town in Manipur in a clash between security forces and thousands of supporters of Thuingaleng Muivah who had gathered to welcome the separatist leader to the state.

More than 5,000 Naga protestors gathered at Mao, the border town between the two adjoining states of Nagaland and Manipur, to welcome Muivah, the general secretary of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).

Muivah is camping at Viswema village in Nagaland, close to the Mao border gate, waiting for an opportunity to enter Manipur and visit his birthplace in a village Ukhrul district, about 220 km from Mao.

The Manipur government has banned the entry of Muivah to his birthplace, saying the visit could lead to unrest in the state.

The 75-year-old Muivah, a Tangkhul Naga from Manipur, was born in Somdal village in Ukhrul district, 100 km north of capital Imphal in Ukhrul district, and had last visited his birthplace in 1960.

‘A huge crowd of people was trying to break the security cordon at the Mao border gate and that prompted security forces to use force resulting in about 60 to 70 people injured,’ a senior police official said.

Muivah is scheduled to address a massive public gathering at his birthplace with an estimated 30,000 people expected to gather.

The entire stretch along the Manipur-Nagaland border is dominated by Naga tribal people who have come out to welcome Muivah.

‘No force on earth can stop me from visiting my birthplace,’ Muivah told journalists Thursday.

The Manipur government has deployed security forces in strength in the border area to prevent Muivah from entering the state’s border.

But the Manipur government is adamant despite New Delhi clearing Muivah’s visit to his birthplace.

The NSCN-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) is operating a ceasefire with New Delhi since 1997 with the two sides holding close to 60 rounds of peace talks aimed at ending one of India’s longest running insurgencies.

The Manipur government maintains the ceasefire with the NSCN-IM does not extend beyond Nagaland and hence Muivah’s visit to Manipur was not acceptable.

The NSCN-IM had earlier demanded that all Naga-inhabited areas in the northeast, including Manipur, be integrated by slicing off parts of three neighbouring states to unite 1.2 million Nagas and create a Greater Nagaland.

The demand is strongly opposed by the states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

‘We would not allow him (Muivah) to visit the state in view of orders from the state government,’ Manipur Director General of Police Y. Joykumar Singh said.

The Nagaland government is in favour of Muivah visiting his birthplace with Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio lobbying in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh was on Thursday summoned to New Delhi for talks with home minister P. Chidambaram to defuse the situation.

‘The home minister had specifically asked the Manipur chief minister not to prevent Muivah from visiting his birthplace,’ Rio said.

The Nagaland government has provided a bullet-proof vehicle and adequate security to Muivah to embark on his journey to Somdal village.

‘The situation is tense and volatile,’ a Manipur government spokesperson said.

The violent insurgency in Nagaland has claimed around 25,000 lives since the country’s independence in 1947.

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