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Manipur: Sit-in-protest highlights school burnings in Moreh, urges removal of Meitei State Force

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Imphal, Jan 27: Thousands of Kuki-Zo people, including students, staged a sit-in-protest in the Indo-Myanmar border town of Moreh on Friday, condemning the destruction of educational institutions by Manipur state forces who allegedly burnt down three high schools recently.

The protest stressed the ongoing disregard for the future of Moreh’s children, and the students’ rights to education by both state and central governments.

Organised jointly by the Kuki Students’ Organization Moreh Block, Kuki Women Union and Human Rights Moreh, Moreh Private Schools Association, Kuki Inpi Tengnoupal, and Hill Tribal Council Moreh, the sit-in-protest chanted slogans demanding normalcy in Moreh, the reopening of schools, and the withdrawal of Meitei commandos.

‘We want normalcy in Moreh’, ‘PM Modi open our Schools’, ‘Union Home Minister fulfill our Memorandum’, ‘Yes to School, ‘No to Meitei Commandos’ were amongst the slogans.

Anthony Tongmang Mate, Secretary of Moreh Private Schools Association, highlighted the impact on children’s education in Moreh, emphasising the urgent need for school restoration.

“The future of Moreh students is very dim and we can’t say anything about it. Help our children go back to school”, he added.

Manipur: Sit-in-protest highlights school burnings in Moreh, urges removal of Meitei State Force

Mate expressed disappointment in the state’s Security Advisor Kuldiep Singh for omitting the school burnings in his press briefing.

“It seems Moreh is bearing most of the brunt of the conflict”, he asserted.

Furthermore, a memorandum jointly submitted by the organising bodies to Union Home Minister Amit Shah addressed that children in Moreh have been deprived of schooling since 2023.

The joint appeal seeks urgent measures to restore normalcy, enabling the functioning of schools and ensuring that children can access education without fear or hindrance.

The memorandum also highlighted ongoing atrocities by the Meitei State force, including extortion, harassment, torture, and killings. It referenced recent incidents of arson, where three private school buildings and fourteen civilian houses were burned down, causing distress in the border town.

It also recalled that five innocent civilians belonging to the Kuki-Zo who bore the brunt of the Meitei State force (Commandos) brutality are still fighting for their life in a hospital in Churachandpur.

The memorandum appealed to the Union Government of India to ensure the withdrawal of the Meitei State force.

The protest also criticised the alleged delay in removing Manipur police commandos from Tengnoupal district, despite appeals from the local population.

It also stated that deployment of additional central security forces may help restore normalcy to some extent but the most effective restoration lies in the complete withdrawal of the Meitei State force.

“We are holding a Sit in Protest to demand the complete withdrawal of the Meitei State force (Manipur State Police Commandos), the main obstacle in the restoration of normalcy in Moreh border town with an earnest appeal to the mighty Union Government of India through your good office to reign on the communal Manipur State Government and ensure the return of normal public life in Moreh border town”, the joint memorandum stated.

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