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'War zone' memories haunt Kuki villagers Chandel ambush

June 06, 2015 13:53 IST

Image: A scene after a military convoy was attacked by an unidentified insurgent outfit first with a powerful Improvised Explosive Device killing at least 20 army personnel and injuring 18 others in Manipur's Chandel district on Thursday. Photograph: PTI Photo/TV Grab

The June 4 ambush on the Indian Army’s 6 Dogra Regiment that killed 18 personnel  near the Paraolon village in Kuki-tribe dominated Chandel district of Manipur by underground rebels, has triggered widespread condemnation by Kuki organisations.

The area was a theatre of violence for several years since Naga-Kuki ethnic clash broke out in 1993 and the civilian Kuki tribe population suffered severely in that war zone.

A fear psychosis has gripped the population there in the wake of the ambush by the Naga rebels and their associate groups on June 4 last, as they apprehended backlash from the army and disruption of the peace in the area after a lull that prevailed in recent years.

Vehemently condemning the attack on the Indian Army the Kuki Students’ Organisation has expressed grave discontentment on the disruption of peace in the area following the attack which has caused fear psychosis to innocent villagers of the area.

Doumang Haokip, president of KSO Chandel said that the violent attack was very unfortunate since it had refreshed the forgettable memory of violence and brutality in the mind of innocent civilian population in the area.

The KSO leader said, “The Kuki-tribe dominated Chandel district has remained a battlefield of the Indian Army and underground rebels during the mid-2000s and the people of the district, especially of Khengjoi areas have suffered immensely because of insurgency and counter insurgency operations. It has only been just 4- 5 years that the people of Chandel along Tengnoupal -- New Samtal road have been living in some sort of normalcy in the area.”

He added that gory memories of volatile days of mid-2000s were still fresh in the minds of Kuki villagers, as many innocent villagers were killed, maimed, injured and permanently incapacitated by landmines planted by warring sides in those areas.

Urging the National Democratic Alliance government to pay sincere attention to the northeast insurgency problem which for so long has hampered the development of the region, he appealed to all underground rebel groups to refrain from any sort of violence.

Meanwhile, people of the Paraolon village, which lies in the vicinity of the ambush site have also condemned the attack. A statement jointly signed by the village chief James Dilbung, Baptist church pastor SK Bungtivi, Paraolen Women Fellowship chairperson LV Shangtlung and Youth president SK Betoi has said the village strongly condemned the ambush near the village.

It said, “The villagers still remember the deadly attacks on them by militants on April 15, 1993 during the Naga-Kuki ethnic clash during which the village had lost many lives and all the houses were razed to the ground. We condemn the ambush and appeal to every underground rebel groups not to repeat such act in the future.”

The United Kuki Liberation Front, a Kuki militant group under suspension for operation with the Indian forces, condemned the attack on June 4 and stated that such incidents occurred when the people of Chandel district are yearning for return of permanent peace and normalcy.

K Anurag in Guwahati