Muivah defers Manipur visit after supporters clash with cops

Posted by on May 6th, 2010 and filed under Politics, 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) Naga separatist leader Thuingaleng Muivah Thursday deferred his proposed visit to his birthplace in Manipur after violent clashes between his supporters and security forces in a border town left injured at least 70 Nagas, most of them women.

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

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

‘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 getting injured,’ a senior police official said.

Naga leaders claimed three protesters were killed in police firing, but Manipur authorities were yet to confirm the reports.

Muivah has since deferred his visit to his birthplace in Ukhrul district, about 220 km from Mao.

‘I shall surely visit to my birthplace in the next couple of days once the situation cools down,’ Muivah told journalists at village Viswema in Nagaland, 8 km from the Mao border gate, where he is camping.

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.

The Manipur government has banned Muivah’s entry to the state, saying the visit could lead to unrest. It had deployed security forces in strength in the border area to prevent him from entering, despite the central government having cleared his visit.

Six independent legislators, all tribal Nagas, resigned Thursday from the Manipur assembly protesting against the state government’s decision to block 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 Nagaland government is in favour of Muivah visiting his birthplace with Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio lobbying for permission in New Delhi. Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh was 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 for his journey to Somdal village.

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.

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

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