IM adamant on setting up camp at Ukhrul district
Cabinet discusses issue
Source: The Sangai Express

Ukhrul/Imphal, January 28 2009: Refusing to budge from its stand, the NSCN (IM) has today made it clear that their objective is to open a camp at Ukhrul district and not as suggested by the Assam Rifles that the cadres holed up at Siroy be shifted to any of the three camps located at Bunning in Tamenglong district, Oklong in Senapati district and Phungchong in Chandel district.

These camps have been there for a long time, much before the ceasefire agreement came into force, AR had earlier maintained.

On the other hand, the State Cabinet which met today, discussed the Siroy crisis, said a reliable source.

To have a detailed discussion on the matter a meeting of the Unified Command has been convened tomorrow which will be chaired by the Chief Minister.

Representatives from the Army, Assam Rifles, BSF, CRPF and State police will attend the meeting.

Some days back, the IG AR (S) had also highlighted the matter during a meeting of the Strategic Operations Group chaired by the Chief Secretary.

The State Government has also verbally communicated the Siroy situation to the Union Home Ministry.

For the moment, the State Cabinet has decided to adopt the wait and watch policy, said a source and added that as per reports received, out of the 40 cadres who were intially holed up in the camp, there are now only 10 left.

Interacting with The Sangai Express at Ukhrul district headquarters, Chief Administrative Officer of the Wung region of NSCN (IM), V Horam said that on January 23 it was agreed that both the Assam Rifles and the NSCN (IM) cadres would withdraw from Siroy simultaneously within 72 hours.

Once the cadres are shifted out from Siroy, they can be moved to a temporary camp while the NSCN (IM) looks for a suitable site to set up an official camp, said Horam.

Once the site is selected then it would be notified by the NSCN (IM), maintained the CAO.

However the Assam Rifles has been insisting that the cadres at Siroy should be shifted to any of the three camps in Manipur, either at Bunning in Tamenglong, Oklong in Senapati or Phunchong in Chandel.

This is not agreeable to us, said Horam and asserted that the Assam Rifles had also earlier agreed that they (IM) will choose the site for the camp which is to be notified later.

Even as the stand off continues, the people of Siroy are beginning to feel the pinch.

Though the Assam Rifles have stopped advising them not to venture out to their fields, they are still reluctant fearing that things may take a turn for the worse.

Local contacts informed The Sangai Express that there is the danger of facing a bleak harvest this and even readmitting their children to schools has become difficult.

The school authorities have been requested to treat students of Siroy as a special cases, said local contacts.

A new body christened "Shirui Non-Violence Committee" has also been formed by the people of Siroy today.

The main objective of the Committee is to enable the people to lead peaceful and normal life.

Members of the Village Authority, Shanao Long, student bodies and youths constitute the Committee which is headed by a Convenor and a secretary.

The Committee has also questioned what the State Govt has been doing when over 1500 people of Siroy are facing the prospect of food shortage.

On the other hand, representatives of Naga Hoho, ANSAM, UNC and Naga Students' Federation who arrived at Ukhrul district headquarters yesterday visited Siroy today morning.

The representatives assured the people of Siroy that they would approach the Centre and apply the right pressure to resolve the situation.

The team also met the AR officers including the CO of 17 Assam Rifles.

The team however was not allowed to proceed near the camp of the IM group as well as where the AR troops have taken position.

The DIG of the Assam Rifles also visited Siroy to over see the situation.

To extend a helping hand to the villagers, the Assam Rifles has opened a mobile medical camp.

As part of the campaign to resolve the situation, a sit-in-protest was held at Gandhi Chowk at Ukhrul district headquarters today.

Meanwhile Outer Lok Sabha MP Mani Charenamei has written to the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Union Defence Minister AK Antony to intervene and defuse the situation.