Wanchos tell Indian Army not to make Longding a battlefield

LONGDING, Dec 18: The people of the Wancho belt in Longding district have appealed to the Indian Army to not make their land a battlefield anymore.
They made this appeal during a village level security meet at the Indian Army camp here on Tuesday.
The meeting was convened in the aftermath of the 8 December incident in which an army jawan was killed and four others injured in an encounter with NSCN-IM militants.
The main objective of the meeting was to build better army-public relations and educate the public about the vitality of sharing information about the movement of militants in their areas.
19 Sikh Regiment Commanding Officer M Karmaker, who chaired the meeting, said the safety of the civilians has always been the first priority of the army in any counter-insurgency operation.
“It is a fact that most of the time we do not retaliate at the militants to avoid undue casualties. But we would not tolerate it if the people take undue advantage of it,” he said.
Lt Col BL Gulzar, the regiment’s second-in-command, informed how the Indian Army has been carrying out various civic action programmes to nurture army-public relations in their areas of operation, besides providing them security.
He said had the villagers shared information about the movement of militants, the army would not have lost the precious life of a jawan.
Lt Col Gulzar appealed to the gathering to share information about the movement of the militants, so that such encounters could be avoided in future.
He said the Indian Army has been doing its best to get maximum number of local youths recruited in the armed forces by conducting pre-recruitment training several times.
He informed that 16 boys from the area qualified in the physical and medical tests in the recently-held recruitment rally, and that the army is going to give special coaching to these candidates before they appear for the written test.
Several civil society leaders, chiefs and GBs also spoke. They expressed their concern over the killing of the jawan, and stated their helplessness over the issue.
“The Wancho people are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. If we inform about the presence of militants to the Indian Army, the former will kill us, and if we do not inform then our own Indian Army will torture us the very next day,” they said.
The gathering, however, expressed their solidarity with the Indian Army and appealed to them to not make the Wanchos’ land a battlefield.
The army informed that 10 talented boys and girls will be taken to Mumbai on an exposure tour shortly.
Longding ADC Tage Ekke also spoke in the meeting, which was attended by all the chiefs and GBs from the entire district of Longding. Members of many organisations, such as the All Wancho Women Welfare Society and the Longding District Students’ Union also attended it.
Earlier, the gathering observed two minutes’ silence as a mark of respect to jawan Sukhvir Singh, who was killed in the encounter. (DIPRO)