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Toy Guns Consigned To Flames In A Symbolic Show Of Anti-Gun Culture

A bonfire being made out of toy guns in a symbolic gesture against gun culture. Image Credit: Sangai Photo

IMPHAL, Apr 5: Along with staging a Wakat Meepham demanding armed personnel to stop firing at random and to arrest the 15th Assam Rifles personnel involved in the killing of Waikhom Ongbi Mani Devi, toy guns were consigned to flames today to spread the message of ending gun violence perpetrated by armed personnel.

Organized under the joint aegis of Conflict Widows’ Forum and Women Action for Development, the protest demonstration was held at Palace Compound here. The toy guns were also set aflame on the sideline of the protest demonstration.

After the protest demonstration and the symbolic burning of toy guns, a memorandum containing a 6-point charter of demands has also been forwarded to the Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh, Governor of Manipur Gurbachan Jagat and Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh.

The first charter of demand stated that the human rights of the indigenous people in the State should be ensured and safeguarded and a Special Rapporteur of the UN should be allowed to assess the situation of fundamental rights so as to book all those involved in crimes for necessary punishment.

The second charter demanded that the personnel of 15 Assam Rifles involved in the random and indiscriminate firing that led to the killing of 75-year old Waikhom Ongbi Mani Devi should be booked.

The third charter demanded that trauma counseling centers should be set up in all the districts of Manipur for providing necessary counseling to the traumatized women and children.

The fourth charter demanded that counseling cells should be established in all the schools so as to ensure the benefits of counseling services to all the children and the provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2006 should be implemented fully.

The fifth charter demanded that increase in use of small guns in Manipur should be monitored, the activities of the military intelligences should be reviewed and India Armed Act, 1959 should be amend-ed. Moreover, a white paper produced on the number of small guns seized by the security forces and where they are being kept and how they are being used.

The sixth and the last charter demanded that budget allocation with regard to Defense related services should be cut down and increase the budget allocation with regard to activities related to poverty alleviation.

It may be recalled here that 75-year old Waikhom Ongbi Mani Devi of Thoubal Nongangkhong Bamon Leikai was killed when personnel of 15 Assam Rifles posted at Thoubal Tomjing Hill opened several rounds of firing in celebration of Indian team’s victory over Sri Lankan team in the ICC World Cup final on the night of March 31.

Apart from decrying this incident, today’s protest demonstration has also denounced the recent killing of Roger Irom when the son of a Cabinet Minister of the SPF Government opened fire from his license gun and lynching of a couple allegedly involved in killing of one Pallel Zilla Parishad member on March 20 by an irate mob.

Placards inscribed with slogans like ‘Stop killing and bomb blast’, ‘Say no to gun’, ‘Wake up 60 MLAs’, ‘Does Central Govt check the small arms trafficking ?’, ‘We demand special law court in all district’, ‘Stop gun violence’, etc were seen being used  at the protest demonstration.

On the sideline of the demonstration, toy guns were also consigned to flame amid shouting of slogans like ‘Stop gun violence’, ‘Don’t allow the number of widows to grow’, ‘Stop ex-Gratia payment’, ‘Equal share of development to all’, ‘Confiscate all arms’, etc. Members of Conflict Widows’ Forum from Thoubal, Bishnupur, Imphal East and Imphal West districts were also present at the protest demonstration.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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