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Kamjong Border Town under siege: Daily activities come to a grinding halt

Ukhrul Journalists witness escalation of tensions and unrest

by IT Web Admin
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Kamjong Border Town under siege: Daily activities come to a grinding halt

By Addie Chiphang
Ukhrul, May 18:

Kamjong, a border town and its surrounding frontier villages, are experiencing an unprecedented state of siege. The Assam Rifles (AR), a paramilitary force, have established posts at every entry and exit point, bringing daily activities to a near standstill. This escalation follows reports of ongoing conflict within Myanmar, creating significant disturbance and fear among the local population.
On May 17, a team of journalists from Ukhrul set out to investigate the situation firsthand. Upon arriving at the Kamjong district headquarters, they encountered the first of many AR checkpoints. Although initially allowed entry, the journalists noted an unusually high level of scrutiny and questioning.
Increased Military Presence and Unrest
As the team continued their journey, they faced numerous AR checkpoints. At the Nampisha (Ramphoi) checkpoint, news of the journalists’ arrival had already reached the AR personnel. After a brief delay, they were permitted to proceed, only to be stopped again a short distance away at the Kangpat Center checkpoint. Here, a truck driver informed the team that this checkpoint had been recently established, causing significant delays and detentions without clear reasons.
Further along, at the Oloyo checkpoint, the journalists met with the area’s AR commander. In a candid conversation, the commander acknowledged the heightened security measures but did not provide detailed explanations for their necessity.
Impact on Local Communities
The team visited several villages like Namlee, Wanglee, KAKA Trade centre and Choro- Zingshophai to gauge the impact of the AR’s presence. At Choro-Zingshophai, the headman, Qr. Athot, and the village secretary, Johna Keishing, revealed that their once-thriving village, home to 1000 households, now has fewer than 100 households remaining. The situation has forced many to flee, leaving behind a ghost town plagued by insecurity and fear.
In Namlee, the last border village visited by the journalists, headman Qr. Lightson Keishing described the AR’s actions as invasive. The AR reportedly moved through the village daily without notifying local authorities, heightening the sense of insecurity among residents. The villagers were particularly disturbed by the AR’s recent efforts to construct unknown types of wire installations within the village, leading to an appeal for cessation of these activities. The AR’s response was dismissive, even threatening, according to the headman.
Perceived Bias and Suspicion
Tensions have been further exacerbated by perceived biases in the AR’s actions. Villagers noticed that while the AR patrols passes the refugee camps, they seem to favor the Kuki refugee camps over others, sparking suspicions of ulterior motives. This selective attention has not only fueled distrust but also raised concerns about possible clandestine activities.
The AR’s restriction of villagers’ movements, particularly when they attempt to go about their daily activities like farming, has added to the atmosphere of fear. Villagers are now facing a severe water shortage due to the increased population from the refugee influx.
Regional Conflict and Local Fallout
The broader conflict in Myanmar, involving paramilitary regiments and the Kuki National Army (KNA- B) using drones and sophisticated weaponry, has spilled over into the border areas. According to the headman of Namlee, the local populace is aware of the AR’s covert involvement in these operations, despite their efforts to keep it secret. This knowledge has intensified calls for the government to halt such activities, which are seen as destabilizing the already fragile region.
Community Leaders Speak Out
Several community leaders voiced their concerns about the ongoing situation:
Qr. Tuthing Tomtak, headman of Wanglee: He demanded the immediate withdrawal of the AR from their jurisdiction, citing their six-month presence as a source of increasing insecurity. The frequent movement of AR personnel in and out of the village in large vehicles has led to further unease, as their numbers do not always match upon return.
Qr. Ramthar; former chairman of Wanglee market: Highlighted the growing issues with water and firewood shortages as the refugee population swells, urging government intervention before the situation worsens.
Zingshangam Ningshen, secretary of Wanglee market: Pointed out the suspicious absence of young people in the refugee camps, which are predominantly populated by women, the elderly, the sick, and children. This discrepancy has raised concerns about the true nature of the refugee presence and the security risks it might pose. He called for these camps to be properly secured and managed.
Qr. Soreingam Hungyo, a village authority at KAKA Trade Centre: Emphasized the humanitarian efforts made by villagers to assist the refugees despite limited resources. However, he stressed that the ongoing strain on water and essential supplies is unsustainable, urging the government to take over the responsibility of managing refugee care to prevent further hardship.
Urgent Appeals for Resolution
The community’s pleas underscore the need for immediate action to restore peace and stability. The unchecked presence of the AR, coupled with the increasing refugee population and the looming threat of external conflict, has created a volatile environment. There is a pressing need for the government to address the concerns of the local populace, ensuring that security measures do not infringe upon the rights and safety of the villagers.
As the situation continues to unfold, the voices of Kamjong’s residents echo a common desire: to live without fear and to see an end to the disruptions that have upended their lives. The government’s response in the coming days will be crucial in determining the future stability of this troubled border region.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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