Myanmarese army intimidates locals of Holenphai Khun, three villagers injured in scuffle with AR
The controversial border issue of Holenphai Khun (village), Moreh sub-division, which has remained unresolved for quite a long time without any specific information from both India and Myanmar, has become a source of burden for the people settling in the border areas due to the repeated harassments and intimidations by the Myanmarese Army. On November 11, Myanmarese police personnel in plain clothes reportedly took photographs of a newly constructed house at Holenphai Khun without any prior explanations, and when the locals had asked for reasons, the Myanmarese police left the place without providing any answer.
In the morning today, Myanmarese police personnel came to the village again and took photographs of the said house while instructing the builders and workers to stop construction activities. It is reported that the Myanmarese police personnel fled the scene when they witnessed the arrival of Moreh police and 11 Assam Rifles personnel who had rushed to the spot immediately upon hearing reports of the incident. Commandant of 11 AR, Moreh, colonel R.S. Rawat later visited the village and requested the locals to stop construction of the house for a while as the ADC of Moreh will be coming to the village for investigations. But the irate villagers did not comply with the request and started construction activities declaring that “We are building the house in our land, Manipur.”
After some tussles and arguments with the villagers, the AR personnel left the vicinity; and upon receiving reports of the particular incident, ADC Moreh, N. Bankim, SDPO Sandeep Gopaldas along with DSP, CDO Moreh, Thomas rushed to the village and tried to pacify the incensed locals. Speaking to media persons, chief of the village, Lalkhulun Haokip stated that now that the Myanmarese army had commanded us to stop construction of the house and the AR too has instructed the same while adding that until the state and central governments concerned provide them information on the exact details of which part of Holenphai Khun belongs to Manipur, the constructions will continue. He also enquired whether the present Assam Rifles are there to protect the people of Manipur or serving the interest of Myanmar while expressing apprehension and regrets that the AR personnel will be of no help if any casualty occurs to the villagers.
The villagers later erected wooden stakes and poles at the main road leading to the village and commenced a Bandh. They also warned that if any resolution is not reached at the earliest, there will be more intense agitations. After the incident, SO Tengnoupal along with AR personnel requested the villagers to stop construction of the house until the DC arrives and the locals complied with the request for a while. But as the DC did not arrive as scheduled, the locals commenced construction again, and another tussle took place when AR personnel commanded them to stop the activities. The furious villagers brought out bottles filled with petrol stating that “if we are not allowed to build houses in our own land, we will set the place ablaze.” A team of Moreh police including women personnel including the ASP and OC along with AR personnel tried to control the situation but when AR personnel tried to seize the petrol bottles from the locals, the mob increased.
Asserting that in the ensuing scuffle, AR personnel taking advantage of the situation, physically assaulted three villages including a woman of the village named Hatjalhing Khongsai along with another female and a male, the villagers tried to escalate matters further but they were later subdued by the arrival of SP, Tengnoupal, S. Ibomcha and DC, H. Rupachandra. Later, a meeting was convened in the afternoon at the residence of the village Chief which was attended by S. Ibomcha, H. Rupachandra, H. Bankim and R.S. Rawat along with the king of Holenphai Khun. After listening to the complaints from the villagers regarding the border issue and harassment by the Myanmarese Army, DC Rupachandra assured that a written statement will be submitted to the chief secretary of Manipur and efforts will be made to reach a settlement at the earliest. “The location of Holenphai Khun is a disputed area between the two countries but once a settlement is reached there will be total information regarding the issue,” he said.
Rupachandra further requested the villagers to stall the construction activities for some time while S. Ibomcha reassured the villagers that the AR is there to protect the people and that they would never harm them. “Misunderstandings during heated arguments occur which is human nature, so let us try to forget the incidents that took place today,” S. Ibomcha added. From the side of the villagers, they reiterated their appeal for a security outpost at the village, and in reply, S. Ibomcha assured that a statement will be submitted to the higher authority concerned for the security outpost adding that in the meantime, a CDO team will be deployed for the safety of the villagers. The meeting concluded with an agreement on the above mentioned points and the villagers also agreed to stall the agitations for the time being. It might be recalled that an Agar (Sandalwood) plantation programme was held by Forest minister, Th. Shyamkumar at the disputed site, and people have expressed surprise at the claim that the land belongs to Myanmar. [IFP Report]