NEW DELHI: The United Naga Council, an umbrella group now of different organisation in the North East states, organised a successful bandh from January 24 midnight till the same time on January 26, leading to a virtual boycott of Republic Day celebrations.

This was in solidarity with the protesting Manipuris who are waiting for the state Assembly to revoke the three controversial Bills on land rights that it had passed in the last session. Since then nine persons were killed in police firing 148 days ago with their bodies still to be cremated. This is for the first time that the Hill tribals here have set aside their differences and emerged united.

Since November 4 many have been sitting on indefinite protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi with nine coffins, symbolising the 9 killed who remain unburied in Churachandpur, Manipur. The Manipur Tribal Forum, Delhi protested on January 26 under the banner: 'Indian Republic Manipur Tribals Demand an Answer. Why This Apathy to Our Plight?'

Speaking to the The Citizen, the convener of the Joint Action Committee which is part of the UNC, H Mangchinkhup said, “ This is a huge issue. We are not against the government but we want a solution. We want them to understand our problem. We are out on the streets in Manipur and in Delhi. I hope that will draw attention of the government towards the real issues”

The 48-hour general strike called by United Naga Council (UNC) beginning from the midnight of January 24 in all the tribal territories of Manipur has been successful. People stayed indoors and observed the bandh.

A press release from the Publicity Wing of the Council stated that the general strike has been called to draw the political intervention of the Government of India in the matter of the passing of the “3 anti tribal Bills and Resolutions” passed by the Manipur Legislative Assembly on August 31, 2015 and the subsequent killing of 9 innocent civilians, whose bodies are still lying at the Civil Hospital in Churachandpur.

Religious programmes, earthquake related activities, educational institutions, medical, electricity, water supply and media have been exempted from the purview of the general strike. UNC also sought the revocation and nullification of the Notification and Orders of the Home Department, Government of Manipur on “Re-Organising of Police District boundaries”. Hundreds of tribal villages which were carved out into 4 valley districts of Imphal should be placed back to its original respective districts, UNC maintained.

The council demanded the withdrawal of all Manipur Police Commandos and IRBs and also demanded adequate justice to the victims of K. Somrei Naga Village who were indiscriminately fired upon and beaten up by alleged Manipur Police Commandos of ABCI based camp on December 27, 2015 during the village’s Christmas festival programme at 7.30 pm.

The apex Naga body in Manipur state maintained that the Naga people along with other tribal people will abstain from this year’s Republic Day celebration over the “indifferent attitude” of the Government of India being shown towards the tribal people.

“ There is a joint effort with added demands. The indifferent attitude towards the whole issue is troublesome. This is not appropriate. We are open for talks provided the it is meant to solve the issues raised by all of us” added Mangchinkhup.

In this regard, UNC has appealed to all “right thinking” Naga and tribal citizens to extend full support and co-operation to the proposed 48-hour general strike and also to stand united till their long cherished political aspiration is achieved.

The Council had earlier informed Tribal Hohos, Frontal organizations and Regional organisations to take appropriate steps to ensure that the 48-hour democratic general strike is strictly implemented in their respective jurisdictions. “Anyone found violating this directive shall be at his or her own risk and UNC shall not be held responsible for any untoward consequences,” it warned. UNC further informed the people to remain alert against the “evil designs and policies” of adversaries to sabotage the democratic rights and movement.