Ukhrul: Rekha Sharma, the chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), and her team were warmly accorded welcomed at Ukhrul district today.
In the maiden visit of the NCW chairperson, the District Administration of Ukhrul organised an interaction session with women leaders, CSOs, and NGOs in the DRDA Hall of the Mini Secretariat Complex in Ukhrul. The team also visited and inspected the One Stop Center (OSC) and Ukhrul District Hospital, accompanied by Tangkhul leader and figure Madam Soso Shaiza, a former NCW member and senior coordinator of NCW, Moirangthem Lilabati, and Sanatombi (MFS).
Speaking at the event, Rekha Sharma said, “Ever since I joined as a member of NCW in 2015, we always travel to far flung areas and meet women of the areas, talk to them and try to understand their problems.”
Rekha Sharma, while visiting One Stop Centre (OSC) Ukhrul expressed dismay over the non-sanction of funds of OSC Ukhrul. She said, “It is learnt that the OSC Ukhrul has not been getting funds for the last 20 months. We will be writing to the Ministry of Women and Child Development about it. Awareness is very less among the community. Most of the people don’t know where the OSC exists or why it exists. Make use of the OSC. Take advantage of the OSC. You can also visit our website and write your grievances to us. We will surely extend all our possible help.” urged NCW Rekha Sharma. She further encouraged the locals of Ukhrul district to expand their businesses by learning better marketing techniques by having an online retail presence. “I want their products to sell online,” Rekha remarked.
Speaking about business potential in the tourism sector, she pointed out that “Tourism is also one great venture as Ukhrul is surrounded with beautiful scenery and cool weather. Construct homestay for tourists to visit and stay. Provide a place to stay where people from outside can come and stay and work for a month. Internet facilities must be secured properly so that the tourist can come and work. The internet service is very weak here in Ukhrul, I will appraise the state and central government,” said Rekha Sharma.
President of Tangkhul Shanao Long, Thingreiphi Lungharwoshi gave a brief profile and history of the organisation. She stated that “many organisations are formed, challenged by certain issues and situational crises. So was Tangkhul Shanao Long. It came into being after repeated torture humiliation and all kinds of inhuman treatment by the Indian Security Forces. In the year 1974, during the month of March, the 95 Border Security Forces made operation and grouping of two villages, namely, Grihang and Ngaprum (now Kumram) in which many women were raped and molested in front of their men, while men folk were brutally tortured. On 4 March 1974, a young girl, Rose Ningshen was raped by three BSF officers one after the other. Unable to bear the humiliation, she committed suicide on 6 March 1974. The death of Rose became the driving force for the formation of Tangkhul Women’s League. On 8 May 1974, 703 women from 90 villages resolved to form an organization uniting all the Tangkhul women.”
TSL has evolved as a peacemakers, as human rights defenders, as knowledge holders and promoters of indigenous knowledge and keepers of the Tangkhul society. She also mentioned the gruesome incident of 17-year-old Luingamla who was shot death by one Captain Mandir Singh of the 25 Madras Regiment on 24 January 1986, when she resisted his attempt to rape her.
On a sympathizing note, Rekha Sharma said, “I felt very sad when the TSL president narrated about the crimes committed by the Indian Army against the women. Because I have seen the army in a different way, they are disciplined and very respectful to women. I am sorry for what happened in the 70s and 80s. In future, these things should not happen. Let us also focus on the positive activities rendered by the army,” she stressed.
The president of TSL, Thingreiphi Lungharwoshi on behalf of the Tangkhul women submitted a memorandum to the Chairperson of NCW. The Memorandum seeks:
- Steps for necessary recommendation and action for the withdrawal of the AFSPA 1958 from all the hill areas/districts in Manipur.
- Multi-utility centre for the women in Ukhrul District.
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Thingreiphi Lungharwoshi also mentioned about the inadequate women police personnel of Ukhrul district and absence of SWADHAR Greh (A Scheme for Women in Difficult Circumstances) which targets the women victims of difficult circumstances who are in need of institutional support for rehabilitation so that they could lead their life with dignity. She also questioned the location of the centre which is situated about 52 km away from Ukhrul headquarters.
Soso Shaiza, former NCW member, lauded the initiative taken by NCW under the leadership of Rekha Sharma. She asserted that the chairperson of NCW had heard the grievances, understood the issues and problems faced by the people of Ukhrul, especially the women folks and exuded total confidence that her visit will surely bring changes for the betterment of Tangkhul women.
The interaction programme was attended by various women leaders of the Tangkhul community. Rekha Sharma and Madam Soso Shaiza later planted a sapling each inside the premises of Mini Secretariat Complex, Ukhrul. The state guest left for Imphal from Ukhrul at around 2:30pm.
Thingreiphi Lumgharwoshi, expressing her gratitude to Rekha Sharma, chairperson NCW, told Ukhrul Times that she is very pleased with her presence and the amount of understanding today’s interaction programme has brought about.
“This program is a first of its kind in such a neglected and remote region. Rekha Sharma’s presence and gesture has certainly helped in lifting our spirits. It’s a matter of great personal sacrifice especially with the inconvenience of travelling in such a bad weather. Nevertheless we thank her for everything and we hope that all the grievances will be addressed and we shall continue to work for the betterment of all women and society, ultimately,” said Thingreiphi.