TODAY -
Sakok impasse between CSOs and AR solved
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, August 16 2009: Assam Rifles yesterday allowed the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to enter Sakok village under Phungyar sub-division in Ukhrul district.

The AR did not earlier allow the CSOs to enter the village after a clash between troops of 23 AR and NSCN-IM occurred on August 12 at the village.

About one thousand men and women´┐Żmembers of Naga CSOs such as Tangkhul Naga Long (TNL), Tangkhul Katamnao Sak Long (TKS), Tangkhul Mayel Ngala Long (TMNL), Tangkhul Sinao Long (TSL), Hungphul Katamnao Long (HKL) and Naga People's Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) started moving towards Sakok village from Ukhrul district HQ in about 54 vehicles of different kinds at about 1 pm yesterday.

However, as the huge number of rallysts reached Sangshak, the road was found blockaded with barbed wires and the gate of the 23 AR post locked.

The rallyists were not allowed to enter the area of the post.

After keeping the rallyists standing on the road for about 3 hrs, the people became angry and tried to storm the AR post holding bamboo torches (Meira) in their hands shouting slogans "Sangshak CO, open the gate" and "Yeh hamara desh hai".

At the time the Commanding Officer of 23 AR, Col SS Bhogal came out and tried to pacify the enraged crowd saying that he was not stopping anyone from moving, but it was only that as the condition of the road was pretty bad, less number of the people would better enter to avoid any danger on the road.

But the large number of rallyists, mostly women did not agree with the request of the CO and insisted him on allowing them to move ahead towards Sakok village.

Unable to subdue the women's voices, the CO ordered lifting the blockade and allowed them to enter Sakok and neighbouring villages.

Later, Sakok villagers told reporters that they first heard sounds of gunshots around 8 am of August 12 around Sakok village.

Then they heard sounds of firing three rounds of 2-inch mortars.

As the mortars exploded, the earth in the village trembled.

After a short while, they again heard sounds of gun-fire and 2-inch mortar bombs exploding.

In all, they heard about 12 mortar shells being fired that morning, chairman of the village authority Solomon Keishing said.

He further said that since there had never been an incident of shootout in or around the village, the villagers became so frightened on hearing the sounds of gun-fire and dared not venturing out of their homes.

About 30 villagers who fled the village towards Phungyar in a Shaktiman truck were detained by troops of 23 AR near Phungyar and taken to Aleng Lamkhai and were kept there with their hands raised for nearly one hour.

Thus the villagers were harassed, villagers charged.

Later, when the SDO of Phungyar sub-division Peter Keishing arrived there at about 4.30 pm, the villagers were released, they said.

The villagers further told the reporters that the AR personnel threatened the villagers who were detained that if any casualty happened among their (AR's) men, the villagers would be killed.

They expressed their wish for the AR troops to leave the area as soon as possible.

There has not been electricity in the areas since that day of the incident.

This has caused immense inconvenince to the villagers, they complained and appealed to the authority to restore electricity supply immediately.

Deputy Commissioner of Ukhrul district, Ashok Kumar told media persons that there is no more problem in the village or surrouding areas.

The troops of Assam Rifles have also returned from there.

He has asked the AR not to give any obstruction to the villagers in their day-to-day life.

Meanwhile, around 2,000 people mostly women took out a torch and prayer rally tonight at Senapati district HQ in protest against the AR's action of killing cadres of NSCN-IM and harassing villagers at Sakok village.

The rally also prayed for the souls of the two NSCN-IM cadres who were killed by the AR troops in an alleged encounter.

The rallyists carried banners on which slogans like "23 AR, don't disturb peace in our land," and "23 AR, don't murder peace in our land".

The rally was jointly organised by UNC, ANSAM, NWUM, NPMHR and SDSA.

The torch rally cum prayers also organised at Tamenglong, Chandel, Ukhrul with the participation of hundreds of people.


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