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Rift in Heirok village over issue of arming of villagers

IMPHAL, June 3: A major difference of opinion has occurred among the public of Heirok village on the issue of establishing SPOs in the village with two separate groups taking up opposing and confrontationist stands on the matter.A group of people belonging to the families of those who have already joined the recruitment process for SPOs recently conducted by the state government at Heirok, with support from representatives and volunteers of local clubs and women`s organisations of Heirok villages convened a public meeting this evening.The meeting was totally against the resolutions taken during the public meeting held under the aegis of JAC Heirok at the residence of local MLA M Oken on June 1 at Heirok village, during which it was resolved to oppose the establishment of SPOs at the village.The public meeting this evening at the Ibudhou Ikop Ningkthou Umang Lai in Heirok Part-II was chaired by Elangbam Thethe, a village elder. After deliberations by the villagers including representatives from the different women`s organisations of Heirok, the meeting resolved to pressurise the state government for establishment of Heirok SPOs/Heirok protection forces for protection of the Heirok region by its own people with arms supplied by the government to the selected volunteers.The meeting further resolved that the puplic would oppose the state government if it attempts to utilise the SPOs in counter insurgency operations in the state, and would return all arms to the state government. The meeting also decided to press the state government to take up the arming process at the earliest.Earlier, during the public meeting at Heirok this evening, several members of the public and youths reacted against the recent resolutions taken during a similiar public meeting held at the residence of local MLA, M Oken where the establishment of SPOs in the area was categorically opposed.The speakers said the recent meeting at the MLA`s residence took place at the behest of some pressure groups as there was no formal announcement made to the public before holding the meeting.Several speakers mentioned that the stand of the Heirok public would never change as they were fixed in the decision to hold arms and face any consequences arising in imparting their duty to protect the lives and properties of the villagers.Many of them also commented that it was not the intention of Heirok public to stand against the militants of the state but the demand was only to maintain a peaceful atmosphere in Heirok which had been neglected by the state government in every sphere of development and security.The vice president of the Heirok JAC, Thamboi Singh while attending the public meeting this evening, clarified that the JAC had no intentions to twist the wishes of the people and the JAC had handed the issue to the people of Heirok and was ready to go by their wishes.With this clarification from the vice president tension was reduced to some extent this evening, but the fact that there are several Heirok people who are against the establishment of SPOs in the area has led to a major controversy in Heirok, many elderly men of the village observed.
(Courtesy: IFP)

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