Shillong, May 10 : The residents of two villages in militancy -prone Thoubal District now feel more secure as the Government of Manipur has provided them with five hundred rifles for self-defence.
The villages are Heirok and Lilong Chajing. The inhabitants of the villages have been seeking for a long time some weapons to protect and safeguard themselves from the unwelcome-armed miscreants.
Besides providing guns, the Government also decided to recruit around 300 Special Police Officers (SPOs) from the educated youth of the villages who will receive an honorarium of rupees 3000 per month.
Based on their performance and initiative, these SPOs can avail the opportunity of being recruited to the Manipur Police. The recruitment of 500 SPO's was conducted at Heirok and Lilong Chajing villages on May 5.
In March one boy and three girls, including a blind girl, were killed during the Thabal Chongba (a dance festival of the Manipur). The women of the villages were shocked. They decided not to allow armed groups to enter the villages and challenge them if they ever tried to do so.
"As a Heirok villager I feel it was a good idea to provide us arms. When innocent people were killed during Thabal Chongba, we felt really unhappy and sad," said Laiba Singh, a resident of Heirok.
With the arms provided to the youngsters by the Government, women of the village believe that untoward incidents will not occur any more. They also hope that the attacks by armed militant groups will subside which will enable them to carry on with their daily duties peacefully without tension.
"We don't like the militants as they kill innocent people and that's why we demanded guns," said Dekhi Devi, a mother.
She added that now she feels more secure.
There are, however, some groups which are unhappy that people have been given arms. The United Committee of Manipur (UCM) and the Apunba Lup have criticised the step taken by the Government.
Rejecting the criticism, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Heirok stated that, weapons were given on the request of the villagers. They say that the critics have never been concerned with the rural folk and had not come to the aid of Heirok villagers while people were suffering.
The Joint Action Committee said that acquiring of arms was not meant to trigger bloodshed amongst the people but only to safeguard the lives of the innocent people.
Meanwhile, the Indian Reserve Battalion has opened an outpost to check the movement of unwanted elements into the Heirok and Mayai Leikai Primary School campus.
Alongside these developments, the 34th Battalion of Assam Rifle has organised a free medical camp at Heirok, where hundreds of villagers availed treatment. By L Chinglen K Singh