Imphal, Feb 8:
Federation of Civil Society Organisations (FOCS) Manipur and Arambai Tenggol (AT) have become entangled in a heated dispute following an alleged assault on BM Yaima, the Vice President of FOCS. The incident has escalated, with both parties engaging in public statements and accusations.
Speaking to media, FOCS President Th Manipur condemned the assault on FOCS Vice President, BM Yaima, describing it as an unprovoked act of violence over trivial matters. FOCS Manipur asserted that the organisation had requested an apology from AT, but instead, they were summoned to AT’s office at night. FOCS issued an ultimatum, demanding a public apology from AT’s leadership by 5 pm the following day.
FOCS accused AT of lacking “respect for established organizations in Manipur and even alleged that AT’s actions were aimed at dividing the Meitei community and creating conflict with other communities.” The organization says “AT has engaged in uncivilized behaviour, particularly in assaulting an elderly person.”
The FOCS President adds “that the people should scrutinize AT’s activities to understand the nature of its organisation.” Questioning AT’s intention, FOCS presidents allege that “the conduct of AT looks like it is being instigated by the Indian government, suggesting a motive to disrupt unity among different communities in Manipur.”
He also insisted that “AT should return the personal belongings, including spectacles and a watch and cash worth thirty thousand rupees, belonging to the assaulted FOCS Vice President” before 5 pm tomorrow.
In response to FOCS’ allegations, Korounganba Khuman, AT Chief, issued a clarification. Khuman argued that “accusing AT on social media was unwarranted and could play into the hands of external forces seeking to exploit the situation.” Khuman acknowledged the incident but provided a different context, stating that it occurred in the context of confronting a soil mafia operating in the Heibok Hills area.
According to Khuman, “armed gangs were illegally collecting and selling soil, intimidating locals and even threatening the forest department. The organization maintained that it had approached local MLAs for support and asserted that the police were hesitant to take action due to the involvement of influential individuals. Even the forest department is scared of them.”
Clarifying what transpired, he said “The gang attacked us with their vehicle, driving towards our vehicles when we went there to confront them over this issue. In the commotion, the fight erupted. FOCS vice president also came. He did not identify himself as a Vice President of FOCS. He was involved in it as his vehicle was also there.”
Khuman accepted that physically confronting elders goes against social norms but expressed dissatisfaction with the language used by FOCS leaders. Regarding FOCS’ call for a boycott of AT, Khuman asserted that such a measure would be ineffective, claiming that people are already aware of AT’s activities and the boycott would not succeed.