Manipur sportspersons vow to return medals if peace not restored soon

Olympic medallist Mirabai Chanu and weightlifter Kunjarani Devi signed the memorandum to Home Minister Amit Shah, along with 11 other athletes; seek stern action against Kuki extremist groups

May 30, 2023 08:12 pm | Updated 08:12 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Indian army personnel patrolling during curfew in Churachandpur district of Manipur on May 17, 2023.

Indian army personnel patrolling during curfew in Churachandpur district of Manipur on May 17, 2023. | Photo Credit: RITU RAJ KONWAR

Thirteen top Manipur sportspersons have threatened to return their medals and awards if peace is not restored in the State soon.

In a memorandum submitted to Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Imphal on Tuesday, the athletes also sought stern action against the extremist groups behind the violence.

The signatories to the memorandum included Olympic medallist Mirabai Chanu, weightlifter Kunjarani Devi, former Indian women’s football team captain Oinam Bem Bem Devi, boxer L. Sarita Devi, Olympian judoka Likmabam Shushila Devi, and boxer L. Ibomcha Singh.

Action against extremists

Demanding the revocation of the Suspension of Operations agreement with the Kuki extremist groups, the sportspersons said that these outfits have been challenging the integrity of Manipur by killing people and burning down houses, despite the deployment of large companies of Central security forces.

“Paramilitary forces might have been reluctant to prevent the Kuki terrorists from attacking innocent civilians” because of the agreement, they said, while seeking both a rejection of the demand to “disintegrate” Manipur, and the deportation of “illegal migrants” to their respective countries.

“It is pertinent to mention that we shall surrender our awards” if the Centre fails to take necessary action to restore peace in Manipur soon, the memorandum said.

Essential items hit

In another statement, the Kabui Mothers’ Association attributed the unrest in Manipur to a misunderstanding between the two communities. “The situation has intensified to a large extent because of the misunderstandings. We, all the communities, have been living together peacefully and lovingly in Manipur since time immemorial irrespective of whether we are from Naga, Meitei, Pangal, Kabui or Kuki or other communities,” the Naga organisation’s general secretary Ranjita Golmei said.

Appealing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Shah to bring back normalcy in the State at the earliest, she noted that essential items are either unavailable or very expensive because of the blockades of arterial national highways. The Kabui body also stresed that the unrest should not be projected as an issue between Christians and non-Christians.

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