Imphal, Feb. 19: Kakopathar’s cry of agony has triggered an outpouring of sympathy in Manipur, no stranger to alleged human rights violations during counter-insurgency operations.
As many as 17 organisations of Manipur today joined the chorus of protests in Assam against the custody death of Ajit Mahanta, a resident of Kakopathar in Tinsukia district, and the subsequent police firing on protesters that killed eight persons.
The groups adopted a resolution expressing “solidarity with the Assamese people in their movement for restoration of rights”. The congregation included representatives of student, human rights and women’s groups.
The protests in Kakopathar over Ajit’s death were reminiscent of the uprising against the Assam Rifles in Manipur after the custody death of a woman named Thangjam Manorama in July 2004. On that occasion, 12 women had stripped in front of Kangla Fort, which was then the Assam Rifles headquarters, and dared the army to “come and rape us”.
Like in the Manorama case, the army claimed Ajit was a “linkman” for militants. The official version was that he died after a fall while trying to escape. The army had picked up the farmer on February 4.
“These barbarous and heinous crimes of the Indian security forces on innocent citizens of Assam expose the vicious nature of Indian state terrorism and suppression of democracy in the Northeast and violation of inalienable rights to life and dignity of the people,” the groups said in a joint statement after the meeting.
They were also united in their plea to the people of the Northeast to raise their voices against all forms of “repression”.
“The government of Assam should take moral responsibility for acting as cowardly agents of the Indian colonial regime and should be taught a severe lesson by the Assamese people. The civil society organisations of Manipur express heartfelt solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Assam and support their movement for restoration of the rights and dignity of the Assamese people and also share the grief of the bereaved families,” the statement said.
Representatives of the AMSU, Manipuri Students’ Federation, Democratic Students’ Alliance, United People’s Front, Threatened Indigenous People’s Society, Tammi Chingmi and Nupi Samaj were among those who attended the meeting.
Y.K. Dhiren, general secretary of the United Peoples Front, said the organisations would communicate with organisations in Assam and continue to extend full support to their movement against human rights violations by security forces