IMPHAL: The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), representing the Meitei community, has reiterated its demand for the removal of the Army barricade located at Phougakchao Ikhai, situated beyond Torbung in the Bishnupur District.
During a press conference held at the committee’s Lamphel office on Tuesday, the committee’s Media Coordinator, Somorendro Thokchom, urged the public to actively participate in a movement scheduled for September 6 at 11 am, underlining the significance of community support in their cause.
In a stern message, COCOMI cautioned both the state and central governments, making it clear that they would hold them responsible for any untoward incidents that may arise during the movement.
Thokchom also highlighted that they had previously set a clear deadline for the relevant authorities to dismantle the barricade, with the deadline set for the end of August. Regrettably, as of the present date, there has been no action taken to address their demand.
This demand for the removal of the Army barricade occurs in the context of a broader debate surrounding the presence of Assam Rifles in Manipur.
While COCOMI has been consistently advocating for Assam Rifles’ withdrawal, Kuki-Zo-Hmar lawmakers and tribal groups have expressed their reservations, arguing that the force operates impartially. Meitei women’s groups have staged a series of protests against the presence of Assam Rifles.
On August 8, the Manipur Police filed a First Information Report (FIR) accusing Assam Rifles of obstructing their pursuit of militants. On the same day, the Army issued a statement addressing the situation, stating that “inimical elements” had made desperate and repeated attempts to question the role, intent, and integrity of central forces, particularly Assam Rifles, who are actively engaged in saving lives and restoring peace.
The Army had acknowledged that due to the complex nature of the situation on the ground in Manipur, occasional differences at the tactical level do occur between various security forces.