Naga woman harassed on pretext of Nongma Panba market closure in Manipur; culprits detained; matter resolved amicably 

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Imphal: Unwanted incidents resulting from misunderstandings and mistrust continue to be reported in violence-hit Manipur. The ongoing ethnic conflict between Meitei and Kuki communities which erupted on May 3 last year has heightened mistrust and reduced tolerance levels among communities who have been co-existing harmoniously for ages in the state. 

In yet another unpleasant incident amid the ongoing unrest in Manipur, a group of people including women confronted one Tangkhul Naga woman at Nagamapal Bazaar under City Police Station in the heart of Imphal city and snatched away her vegetables which she had brought for selling in the market on Saturday morning. She was confronted on the pretext of Nongma-Panba market closure. The woman from Ukhrul area came to Nagamapal bazar in an auto-rickshaw to sell her products unknowing that markets under IMC were closed on account of Nongma Panba, the first day of the month as per Manipuri Lunar Calendar. With timely intervention by city police along with leaders of various CSOs, the culprits involved in the incident were detained and both the parties reached an amicable conclusion.

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Earlier in the day, a video of the victim sharing her ordeal went viral on social media platforms. In her Facebook live, the victim identified as Primrose Awungshi, stated that she was stopped by a group of people when she went to Nagamapal Bazaar on Saturday morning. She said the miscreants snatched away her vegetables and further abused her with derogatory remarks and accused her of trying to sell goods when markets were closed on account of Nongma Panba. Primrose said that she was not aware of the market closure on account of Nongma Panba since she is not from the area. The woman victim said she was not there to sell goods, but rather to buy vegetables with a better bargain, so she could later sell in a local market. A sack of sesame seeds of mine was already loaded in one of the two-wheelers of the miscreants, so I requested them to return but they threatened to take away all my belongings from the auto-rickshaw I hired,” said Awungshi. The victim appealed to people in the state to be more considerate towards one another irrespective of community and religion for peaceful co-existence. 

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After the video went viral, the city police team led by Officer in Charge, Inspector S. Guikan Thangal swung into action and tracked down the culprits and detained them in collaboration with leaders of various CSOs. The accused persons and the victim woman held a talk at City Police Station in the presence of leaders of various CSOs including Convenor of Forum for Restoration of Peace Manipur Ashang Kasar, Chairman of Tara gi Cheisu Khaidem Mani, representatives of Imphal Naga Forum, Uripok Apunba Lup and Uripok Nupi Apunba Lup and women vendors of Khwairamband Ima Market. The meeting reached an agreement to resolve the matter amicably. The victim woman confirmed that the matter had been resolved amicably and appealed to stop circulating her video any further.

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Speaking on the sidelines, general secretary of Lukmai Selup, Asem Nirmala said those culprits will be reprimanded and advised to refrain from such misconducts in future and she asked the victim woman for forgiveness. Stating that Manipur is not for just one community, but it is inhabited by different communities, she appealed to all to maintain unity and harmony. Convenor of Forum for Restoration of Peace Manipur Ashang Kasar termed the incident very unfortunate. He said the matter had been resolved amicably and urged the public not to escalate the matter any further amid the already tense situation in the state. He also urged the public to refrain from taking laws into their own hands and let the relevant authorities and law-enforcing agencies do their job of maintaining law and order. 

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It may be mentioned that in 2022, the Government of Manipur, vide letter No. MiscM-601/33/2020-MAHUD-MAHUD-Part92) dated 6/10/2022, notified to all the concerned that all the shop/vendors markets, including the 4 Ima keithels at Khwairamband, Lamlong, Kongba, Singjamei, Kwakeithel, Tera Bazar, Lamphel Super Market, Thangal Bazar and Paona Bazar shall remain closed on every Nongma Panba (Meitei Calendar) except on Sajibu Nongma Panba, Engen Nongma Panba and Hiyangei Nongma Panba for the purpose of carrying out social service for sweeping and cleaning their respective shops/markets.

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