Strife in Manipur forces people to stay in relief camps

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Kohima, May 17 (ANI): Around 500 villagers belonging to the Moa tribal community has been staying in a relief camp for the past ten days in Kohima, due to the ongoing strife in Manipur's Senapati District.

The relief camp was set up at Kisama village in the wake of a bloody encounter in which Manipur police personnel fired at scores of protesting villagers at Mao Gate in Senapati district on May 6, killing two and wounding many others.

The villagers were up in arms against the state government's decision to not to allow Thuingaleng Muivah, the leader of separatist National Socialist Council of Nagaland - Isak Muivah (NSCN - IM), to visit his ancestral village in Manipur state.

They said they are hopeful that the central government would be able to resolve the situation at the earliest.

"What makes us worry is when will be able to go back to our villages, and when will we hear that good news (that situation has become normal). We expect the government would be able to resolve the issue at the earliest, and in the best possible way so that we might be able to go home," said Ella, an inmate at the camp.

"Most of the people here are cultivators. They are worried for their fields because it is time for sowing and also (they) do many other activities in the village. They are worried for staying so long in these camps. But they fear to go back home until this problem is settled," said James Athikho, the relief camp in-charge.

Violent clashes between Muivah's supporters and security forces at the border town of Mao resulted in the death of two women protestors and left over 50 others injured.

The NSCN-IM had agreed to a ceasefire in August 1997 and launched a peace process with the Central Government to bring an end to the longest-running insurgency in India. The rebel group has participated in several rounds of talks with central officials since the start of the ceasefire.

But talks between the two sides have not made progress over the rebels" main demand of unification and eventual independence of Naga-dominated areas in northeast India. (ANI)

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