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Manipur violence: Centre rushes 4,000 additional paramilitary personnel

New Delhi: The Centre has rushed additional 4,000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur in its efforts to reopen a national highway which has been blocked for nearly two months by a Naga group.

With this, the total number of central security personnel deployed in the sensitive northeastern state for assisting the local administration for maintaining law and order has gone up to 17,500.

“Our top priority is now to reopen the National Highway-2 connecting Manipur (to Nagaland). While the other highway (NH-37) is reopened, we want to reopen the NH-2 too as early as possible,” a senior home ministry official said.

The security personnel were sent to the northeastern state keeping in view the security situation in the wake of violence following the economic blockade imposed by the Union Naga Council (UNC) on the National Highways since 1 November.

File photo. Reuters

File photo. Reuters

The UNC has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the landlocked Manipur.

Curfew has been clamped in Imphal East district for the last fortnight after a mob torched and vandalised 22 passenger vehicles on the Imphal-Ukhrul road, while curfew in Imphal West district was imposed from evening to dawn.

In a stern message, the Centre had on Friday told the Manipur government that it can’t escape responsibility for the “humanitarian crisis” arising out of the 52-day economic blockade by a Naga group and must work to end it, while making it clear that nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of it.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who was on a day-long visit to Congress-ruled Manipur as a central emissary, said it is completely unacceptable to have such kinds of blockades in which thousands are suffering and both the central and Manipur governments will work together to end it.

“The state government has not been able to end the blockade. It must end as soon as possible as law and order is the responsibility of the state government. Nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of a humanitarian crisis where common people are suffering,” he had said.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 18:11 IST

Curfew in East Imphal: All you need to know about the Manipur violence, economic blockade

At least 22 cars, buses and other vehicles were torched in some places in Manipur’s Imphal East district on Sunday by angry residents protesting against the Naga economic blockade and several incidents of militancy targeting security forces.

Following the heightened tension and violence, parts of Manipur capital Imphal were brought under indefinite curfew and mobile internet services were snapped at various places to prevent spread of rumours.

Imphal East: Angry people set on fire vehicles in protest against the United Naga Council (UNC)'s indefinite economic blockade. PTI

Imphal East: Angry people set on fire vehicles in protest against the United Naga Council (UNC)’s indefinite economic blockade. PTI

The curfew was imposed on Sunday afternoon and covers Porompat and Sawombung subdivisions of Imphal East district, said an order issued by the District Magistrate. It will continue till further directions.

In Imphal West district, the major areas where violence flared up were around the area where three blasts had taken place within an hour on Friday evening.

The landlocked state has been experiencing severe hardship in supply of essential items since 1 November after United Naga Council (UNC) imposed an indefinite economic blockade on the two national highways that serve as lifeline for the state.

The blockade was imposed following the state government’s announcement of formation of seven new districts, four of which have been formally inaugurated. The UNC claims that the creation of new districts in the Naga dominated hill areas will encroach upon and divide the traditional land holdings of Naga tribes.

The blockade, however, has not only crippled trade and normal life in the state, it also stoked up the existing divide between the valley and the hill populace.

Tension in the state further heightened after suspected militants continued their violent attacks on Manipur Police and other state forces in the last few days that left three policemen dead and 14 others injured last Thursday. The attack was followed by triple bomb blasts at Nagaram area in Imphal West district allegedly by Manipur Naga People’s Front on Friday.

In another incident, suspected militants overpowered a small outpost of Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) at Nungkao area on Saturday in Tamenglong district and fled with nine service weapons.

According to a report in News 18, the violence and insurgency in the state — suspected to be carried out by various Naga outfits — has steeped in the recent past, even as the National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak-Muivah (NSCN(IM)) leadership claims that a political solution on the lines of Greater Nagalim is on the cards. The situation has worsened so much so that the Manipur Chief Minister urged the Centre in writing to snap all agreements with the NSCN(IM) and revoke the ceasefire at least in Manipur.

Thus, in the aftermath of the economic crisis and insurgency, a group of angry protesters on Sunday took to the streets and torched vehicles coming down from the Naga dominated hilly areas. Even as several vehicles were torched and vandalised, the arsonists did not target the vehicle drivers and passengers. The fire tenders and security forces, however, could not salvage the vehicles due to street blockades and protests.

Remains of torched vehicles in imphal west as tension between valley and hill populace flared up following a blockade imposed by a naga group. PTIRemains of torched vehicles in imphal west as tension between valley and hill populace flared up following a blockade imposed by a naga group. PTI

Security forces doze fire from the remains of torched vehicles in Imphal West as protesters set ablaze vehicles coming from Naga dominated areas. The tension between valley and hill populace flared up following a blockade imposed by a Naga group. PTI

Expressing the people’s resentment against the blockade, activist A Rajen told IANS, “Since the central government is pampering the United Naga Council (UNC) and the militant outfit underpinning it, the situation is getting worse day by day. The Centre is a silent spectator to the indefinite economic blockade imposed against Manipur since 1 November.”

The violence comes on a day when a state-wise bandh was called by various civil society groups in the state, including a group of women vendors of Khwairamband Bazaar. The protesters took out marches and forced all transport to stay off-road as they displayed placards saying “Remove NSCN-IM from Manipur”, “Declare United Naga Council an unlawful organisation” among others, according to a PTI report.

Earlier in the day, the state Cabinet decided to shut down mobile internet services in Imphal West district with immediate effect, taking serious note on the prevailing situation in Manipur following the three blasts on Friday and the subsequent call for state-wise bandh.

The Cabinet decision came after analysis of the prevailing law and order situation and to halt spreading of rumours through social networking sites, officials said.

All measures were being taken to contain violence by deploying a large number of police personnel at sensitive areas of the state, a police officer said.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 21:44 IST

Manipur ambush: Terrorists kill two jawan, injure eight in Chandel district

Militants killed two policeman and injured eight during two surprise attacks in two different places in Manipur’s Chandel district on Thursday.

According to PTI, one of the attacks took place in Lokchao village in Chandel district, 21 kilometres from the border town of Moreh, along the Imphal-Moreh route killing one personnel on the spot and injuring seven others. report said that team of Manipur Police were travelling from Moreh (near India-Myanmar border) to Tengnoupal District for a scheduled programme of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, when they came under attack. The jawans were attacked with improvised explosives and bullets by terrorists on reaching Lokchao, the report said, adding that injured were rushed to a nearby hospital.

One wounded personnel succumbed to injuries later, a police officer told PTI. Ibobi was scheduled to inaugurate the newly created district of Tengnoupal, carved out from the existing Naga-dominated district of Chandel.

The two dead Manipur Police personnel have been identified as Md Ayub Khan and Hc Ngarei Marring, the police officer said.

While the no terrorist outfit has officially claimed responsibility for the attack, News18 said that the police suspect the terrorists who attacked near Lokchao village to belong to the Naga outfit, National Security Council of Nagaland Isak-Muivah(NSCN-IM).

In the second ambush that took place at Bongyang area in the same district, one personnel of the state forces was also severely injured. Of the eight injured, three personnel who received critical injuries have been rushed to Imphal for further medical treatment, the police officer said.

Incidentally, Chandel district, which sits close to the Myanmar border, has been seeing a lot of deadly attacks on security forces in the recent past. According to reports, on 26 November, five security forces personnel were injured in an ambush in Sajik Tampak in Chandel district. In similar incidents, according to Indian Express, “eighteen soldiers were killed in the district on 5 June 2015” whereas, “on May 23 this year, six personnel of the Assam Rifles were killed in an ambush in Chandel”.

According to News18, the entire area has been put on high alert following the incident.

With PTI inputs

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 10:17 IST

Manipur to have 16 districts now, cabinet decides formation of 7 new ones

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Manipur government, led by Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, has decided to form 7 more new districts, bifurcating the existing 9 districts of the state, a state cabinet secretariat source said on Friday.The decision for formation of seven new districts was taken in a state cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister last evening at the CM’s secretariat, the source said. “Manipur will now have 16 districts and the decision for formation of 7 new districts was taken for administrative convenience and to enable the state government take up development works effectively even in the remote and underdeveloped parts of the state,” the chief minister said over phone this morning.The newly formed districts are Kangpokpi, Tengnoupal, Pherzawl, Noney, Kamjong, Jiribam and Kakching, the cabinet secretariat source said.Posting of the new Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police for the newly formed districts were also effected in the government order issued on Thursday, the source said.Manipur earlier had 9 districts – Imphal West, Imphal East, Bishnupur, Thoubal, Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong, Churachandpur and Chandel.The chief minister explained that inauguration of the new districts would be taken up as soon as possible before the announcement of state assembly elections by the Election Commission of India.The move came in the backdrop of the United Naga Council (UNC) launching economic blockade in Manipur for more than one month since November one last in protest against the formation of Sadar Hills (Kangpokpi) and Jiribam districts.

Imphal: Grenade found at residence of BJP leader

Thu, 8 Dec 2016-01:41pm , Imphal , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A hand grenade was found at the gates of the residence of Manipur BJP leader Th Chaoba at Utlou in Bishnupur district on Thursday.The grenade was discovered by the locals and was later recovered by security forces, a police officer said.Chaoba is the convenor of the State Election Management Committee of BJP in Manipur.No outfit has claimed responsibility for the act as yet.

Manipur already soaked in election colours

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As one moves through the central part of the state capital, colours of an impending Assembly polls dart its streets, seamlessly merging into the olive green of Army which stands guard across the city. Being a north eastern state, it is easy to assume that Imphal would be away from the boisterous, vociferous and pompous trappings of elections till you find huge billboards of BJP chief Amit Shah cheek by jowl with other advertisements. Saffron is all across the city, giving an impression that the anti-incumbency wave is firmly sweeping the voters, till one comes across late PA Sangma smiling from one of the posters of National People’s Party, sharing space with his son and MP Conrad Sangma.Manipur goes to polls in February, riding on age old key agendas of employment, infrastructure and repealing of Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA). The Congress which has been reigning for the last 15 years will face a direct battle for 60 seats with arch rival BJP that has been non-existent here till 2014. These elections also hold a special interest among Manipuris as Irom Sharmila will field herself for the first time, a decision which has not gone down well with a lot of natives. “We want to see her as a social worker, not a politician. People here have still not forgiven her for ending the fast as they feel betrayed. Besides, since she does not possess qualities of a good leader, she won’t be of much help to the AFSPA cause even if she wins,” T Neina, a local feels.Other than a clear mandate on Sharmila, it is difficult to gauge which way the wind is blowing.

Manipur: IED blast in near Majorkhul Gate in Imphal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>): An IED blast took place on Saturday morning near Majorkul Gate of MG Avenue in the capital city of Manipur.The blast took place around 7:30 AM, which exploded near Majorkhul Gate of MG Avenue, Imphal Police Statation and district Imphal west by unknown miscreants.No human casualties have been reported so far but a car was damaged in the explosion.A few days ago, on October 24, 2016, Manipur CM Ibobi Singh today escaped unhurt when suspected militants opened gunfire as he was getting out of his helicopter at the Ukhrul helipad, CID officials said.A jawan of the Manipur Rifles was injured in the firing which took place when the Chief Minister stepped out of the helicopter and was being greeted by government officials, the officials said.A day earlier to this incident, a jawan of the Indian Resserve Battalion sustained splinter injuries in a bomb attack by suspected militants on the newly constructed hospital in the wee hours today before its scheduled inauguration, police said. Two bombs were fired at the hospital either from a lethod gun or rocket launcher, the official said.At remote Chingai village, Singh was scheduled to inaugurate a power sub-station, a BDO office and a bank building.

Irom Sharmila dons a new hat with political front: All you need to know about the iron lady

Manipur’s iconic human rights activist Irom Sharmila launched a new political party called the People Resurgence and Justice Alliance in Imphal on Tuesday.

Sharmila said she will contest against Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi from the Thoubal constituency in the 2017 assembly elections. She will also contest from Khurai, her home constituency, she added.

“I want to become the Chief Minister to repeal the Afspa… since Ibobi has kept all sections of the people in his constituency satisfied they may reject me. But I want to know whether people in other districts in general and the hills in particular are well looked after. Since my mission is to repeal the Afspa, I am throwing the gauntlet to the Chief Minister,” a humbled Sharmila said. She further disclosed that her party will field 20 candidates and names of four candidates have been finalised.

Earlier on Wednesday, she visited Johnstone Higher Secondary School in the heart of Imphal city where the first session of the elected Assembly of Manipur was held on 18 October, 1948. “Since this is the cornerstone of democracy, I have come seeking blessings,” Sharmila said.

Irom Sharmila Chanu. ReutersIrom Sharmila Chanu. Reuters

Irom Chanu Sharmila. Reuters

Who is Irom Sharmila?

Irom Chanu Sharmila was just another woman, born in a small village in the hilly state of Manipur, until something changed and she metamorphosed into a symbol of peaceful resistance against the brutalities of nation state. Young Sharmila, after she reportedly saw the army kill 10 people at a bus stop near her home, decided to sit on a fast unto death. But what she couldn’t have gauged back then was the sheer duration of her battle and her strength to carry on.

For 16 long years, which makes up most of her adult life, Sharmila refused to eat or drink anything, until Afspa (Armed Forces Special Powers Act that gives the security forces almost unquestioned authority to operate in a state) was repealed.

She began fasting on 2 November, 2000 and since then, has been held in judicial custody almost ever since, and has spent much of the last 16 years confined to a hospital ward, until 9 August this year when she finally broke her fast by dribbling some honey.

Her long-stretched battle had many dimensions that stretched way beyond her eating or not eating food. Apart from the sheer strength it took to abstain from the most primal of human needs, Sharmila was under great emotional distress even when she was at the prime of her popularity. She has not been to her home or seen her family in 16-years, as she said it would be difficult for her mother to see her like that. Her 84-year-old mother had given Sharmila her blessings and asked her to come home only after she achieved her goal.  Her long protest won her worldwide recognition and many international accolades: the rights group Amnesty International described her as a ‘Prisoner of Conscience.’

Her elder brother Singhajit said their mother is waiting for the moment of her victory which will come only when Afspa is repealed.

Although living only few metres away from each other, the brother-sister duo had met only once in all these years when their mother Sakhi was admitted to Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital, where Sharmila was force-fed through a nasal tube and kept under detention by the police for suicide attempt. Singhajit recalls the time when their mother had slipped into coma in 2009 after an asthma attack.

“Sharmila feared death and so she managed to sneak into her mother’s ward in the same hospital at midnight. When she came very close to the mother’s face, suddenly she was in her senses. But our mother ordered her to go back immediately,” he said.

The iconic civil rights activist left the place like an obedient child without arguing. “Come to me after winning. I am waiting for that moment when you will come home and cook food for me,” Singhajit quoted their mother as having told his sister, who is the youngest of her nine children. He said even now her mother sticks to what she had said at that time.

Sharmila’s associates said she has since then not even clipped her nails. “She became very weak and so the nails became brittle and broke, grew again and fell down again. She never clipped them if it hurt her,” they said. Unlike any other woman, she also refused to comb her hair or even look at the mirror. “She was abstaining from a lot of pleasures in life,” Singhajit said.

However, things changed after she decided to break her 16-year long battle.

Irom Sharmila breaks her fast by tasting honey. PTIIrom Sharmila breaks her fast by tasting honey. PTI

Irom Sharmila breaks her fast by tasting honey. PTI

Breaking a 16-year-long fast

On 9 August, 2016, Sharmila wept as she removed the tubes that were used to force-feed her from her nose and consumed a vial of honey, ending what is arguably the world’s longest hunger strike.

After her body became frail due to years of abstinence from food, Sharmila was gradually lifted off the nasal diet, starting with liquid oral feed. Doctors said that since there was no precedence in medical history of how someone’s body would react if he or she starts eating after a break of 16 years, she had to be kept under medical supervision even after breaking the fast.

However, after breaking her fast, Sharmila had been isolated by her angry followers. Manipuris, shocked after Sharmila’s sudden decision to give up fasting, disowned the human rights activist, who had spent most part of her 16 years either in prison or in hospital being force-fed through a nasal tube, fighting for a cause that strikes a chord with most Manipuris. From an iconic leader who was revered and loved by her people, she was reduced to a social reject, as she was reportedly forced to continue living at the hospital where she was treated as most Imphal residents were reportedly not ready to provide her a house on rent.

I went on a fast for about 16 years thinking I could change the system, but I now realise that this will not yield any result.

After witnessing public abandonment, an emotional Sharmila said that she will still try to become a CM to push her demands, even if her own people did not support her. “People have reacted negatively to my decision to enter politics. But this is my decision,” she said. Stressing on the point that she was not afraid of the consequences of her actions, Sharmila said, “Let them kill me the way they killed Mahatma Gandhi.”

Facing dejection, Sharmila then announced that she will not visit her mother until she succeeds in her goals. Sharmila has not visited her house at Kongpal Kongkham Leikai, on the edge of Imphal city, even once all these years. Her mother, however, gave her a surprise visit at the hospital soon after she called off her hunger strike. Sharmila said, “It was quite a surprise that my mother came to visit me after 16 years. She and my sister came to meet me.”

The situation was such that the authorities said police would maintain an escort for Sharmila because radical groups and rebels were angry with her and had threatened her for ending the strike, seeing it as weakening the fight against the military law.

Sharmila however stood her ground. The iron lady expressed her anguish to reporters saying, “India may understand me but Manipuris don’t. Manipuris don’t understand my struggle… I too want to live a normal life,” as quoted in a report in India Today

How much support does she have?

Amnesty International declared her a Prisoner of Conscience in 2013 and she has received several prestigious international prizes, including a lifetime achievement award from the Asian Human Rights Commission.

But support in her home state has waned and in recent years she has hinted at her frustration with this.

Some in Manipur have criticised her choice of partner because he is from outside the state, with one insurgent group threatening to kill her if she marries him.

According to a report in  Hindustan timesshe also received death threats from radical groups after she expressed her desire to get married and “have a normal life” while continuing to fight her battle through democratic means. The radical groups however look at it as “deviating from the cause”. Such groups also warned Sharmila agianst marrying a non-local man. Sharmila’s fiance Desmond Coutinho is a Goan-British activist.

Why politics?

Many have wondered what shook the Iron lady’s will as she decided to break her fast. Sharmila clarified that she had only changed her strategy as years of fasting had not helped. “I have learned the hard way that my fasting has not had the desired result,” she said.

As she announced her ambition to be the next chief minister of Manipur, Sharmila conceded that the path ahead will not be any easier. “I know nothing about politics and academically my education is very, very low, but I want to convince our people,” she said in halting English. “I will use everything I have for the positive change of the society,” she added.

Willing to learn the traits of trade, Sharmila also met Delhi CM and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal and sought his advice on how to defeat “major political parties” in her state while Kejriwal assured her of all possible support for fighting the election. She also sought to know how Kejriwal managed the feat of handing out a crushing defeat to traditional political players with his then newly-floated political front. Sharmila had also expressed her desire to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi expecting “good advice” from him.

When questioned about her waning support, a determined Sharmila replied that hers has been a lonely battle so far and she plans to take it forward alone. “My fight so far has been all alone and so I have decided to wage a war against the [Afspa] act democratically by becoming a lawmaker instead of continuing with my fast,” she told reporters at the time. On the threats issued to her life in the wake of her discontinuing her fast, an undaunted Sharmila said, “People can’t be convinced right now, but if they really don’t want to be convinced, let them kill me.”

With inputs from agencies

Irom Chanu Sharmila launches People’s Resurgence Justice Alliance, her new political front

Manipuri human rights activist Irom Sharmila on Tuesday launched a new political front to take forward her battle to get Afspa (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) repealed from the state.

Her political front will be called People’s Resurgence Justice Alliance, which she formally launched at a press meet in Imphal, according to ANI. Sharmila who ended her 16-year-old hunger strike in August this year, had vowed to press on with her fight by entering politics. She had expressed her desire to become the chief minister of the state to pursue her battle.

“I’ll never forget this moment… I want to be the Chief Minister of Manipur to take positive steps,” Sharmila had said after breaking her fast. “I know nothing about politics. My education is very, very low…But I will use everything I have for the society,” an emotional Sharmila added.

Irom Sharmila breaking her 16-year-long fast on 9 August 2016. PTI

However, there was widespread discontent amid Manipuris as Sharmila decided to break her fast. From being revered as a shining icon of unbending will, the 44-year-old activist was suddenly transformed into an object of furious disapproval, writes Shuma Raha for Firstpost. The article further states that after being released on bail, Sharmila had to strufggle to look for a home to stay. She was denied entry twice into a colony in Imphal, where she wanted to live. Even an Iskcon temple denied her the permission to stay.

The Iron Lady however stood by her decision. An emotional Sharmila had said that she will still try to become a CM to push her demands, even if her own people did not support her. “People have reacted negatively to my decision to enter politics. But this is my decision,” she said. Stressing on the point that she was not afraid of the consequences of her actions, Sharmila said, “Let them kill me the way they killed Mahatma Gandhi.”

Sharmila’s 16-year-long battle clearly had won her inetrnational recognition and widespread support from the Manipuris, but her decision to deny (or later accept) food had multiple dimensions which went beyond her fasting. The toughest one was not to go home and meet her 84-year-old mother Shakhi Devi till achieving her goal of getting Afspa revoked. Sharmila has not visited her house at Kongpal Kongkham Leikai, on the edge of Imphal city, even once all these years.

But despite breaking her fast she has decided that she will only meet her once she has succeded in her aim to get Afspa repealed from Manipur. “I will see my mother only after I achieve my goal of repealing Afspa,” she said.

With all major political parties extending support to Sharmila after she expressed her desire to join mainstream politics, the Iron lady had made it clear that she will form a new front to do justice to her battle. However, Sharmila had earlier in September met with AAP convenor and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal giving rise to speculations about her next move. She met Kejriwal on 26 September  and sought his advice on how to defeat “major political parties” in her state while Kejriwal assured her of all possible support for fighting the election, according to PTI. She also sought to know how Kejriwal managed the feat of handing out a crushing defeat to traditional political players with his newly floated political front. Sharmila had also expressed her desire to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi expecting “good advice” from him.

Sharmila, who is often referred to as the Iron lady of India had been forced fed through a nasal tube for all these years, as she decided to go on a hunger strike against the army law that she said led to atrocities in her northeastern state. Sharmila, in tears, broke her fast in front of reporters by dripping honey into her mouth on 9 August, 2016. She said she would continue to fight a law that gives security forces wide powers to search, enter property and shoot on sight in parts of remote Manipur state.

She launched her hunger strike in 2000 after security forces killed 10 people near her home following a rebel attack on a military convoy. Her long protest won her worldwide recognition and the rights group Amnesty International described her as a prisoner of conscience.

Manipur, a state with a population of 2.5 million, has struggled for decades with an insurgency even as other northeastern states have become more stable. Last year, 20 soldiers were killed in an attack there.

Irom Sharmila launches political party, calls it People’s Resurgence Justice Alliance

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Irom Sharmila launched her party in Imphal on Tuesday and named it People’s Resurgence Justice Alliance. Sharmila had been on a hunger strike for 16 years, demanding a repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from Manipur and was force-fed during this period. She ended her fast on August 9, 2016. At the time, she had told reporters that after being released that she would launch her political party to contest the Manipur Assembly election due early next year. Sharmila had declared in August that she wanted to become the state CM so that she could repeal the contentious AFSPA.

Manipur: Two Congress MLAs defect to BJP ahead of upcoming state elections

Imphal: Two former Congress MLAs on Monday joined BJP ahead of the upcoming state elections due in early 2017.

File photo of Chief Minister of Manipur Ibobi Singh. AFP

File photo of Chief Minister of Manipur Ibobi Singh. AFP

The former Congress MLAs, N Biren and Francis Ngajokpa were warmly received by BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav, BJP’s National Democratic Alliance Convenor Himanta Biswa and state party President Bhabananda in Imphal.

Ngajokpa had tendered his resignation from the house as well as from the primary membership of the party on 13 October and N Biren on 6 October this year.

Though Ngajokpa maintained that he had resigned from Congress due to the pressure of his voters of Tadubi in Senapati district, N Biren alleged that the present incumbent Ibobi Singh government had failed to bring good governance in the state.

Earlier in September last, veteran Congress MLA Y Erabot was the first to resign from the party to join BJP.

This comes after Andro MLA Thounaojam Shyamkumar, Oinam MLA I Ibohalbi Singh, Konthoujam MLA Konthoujam Sarat Singh and Wangoi MLA Oinam Lukhoi Singh, four former Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLAs, joined the Congress after resigning from the primary membership of TMC on 18 September, 2016.The four MLAs told a press conference that they have joined the Congress since the national leadership of the TMC “failed miserably” to take up the issues related to the Framework agreement signed between the NDA government at the Centre and NSCN (IM), territorial integrity of Manipur and implementation of the inner-line permit system in the state in Parliament. O Ibobi Singh warmly welcomed the legislators into the party and said the partymen will work hand-in-hand with them in the times to come.

Najma Heptulla to be sworn in as governor of Manipur on Sunday

Imphal: Najma Heptulla will be sworn in as the Governor of Manipur tomorrow at Raj Bhavan here, officials said on Saturday.

Najma Heptullah. PIB

Najma Heptullah. PIB

She will be administered the oath of office by Acting Chief Justice of the High Court of Manipur R R Prasad at 11.30 am on Sunday.

Heptulla arrived here this afternoon at Imphal International Airport where she was received by state Chief Secretary O Nabakishore, Director General of Police L M Khaute and other officials.

Heptulla, 76, had last month resigned as Minority Affairs Minister from the Union Cabinet.

The resignation had come as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is believed to have set an unwritten writ of ’75-year age bar’ for ministers.

Meghalaya Governor V Shanmuganathan is currently holding the additional charge as Manipur’s  governor.

Hand grenade hurled at police station in Manipur

Two unidentified youths hurled a hand grenade at Lamphel police station complex in Imphal West district on Thursday, a police officer said. No casualty was reported in the medium-intensity explosion in the complex.The miscreants, who came in a two-wheeler, fled taking advantage of the absence of proper street lights, the officer said.The incident came two days before the scheduled visit on April 23 of President Pranab Mukherjee in Imphal to inaugurate a war memorial monument in connection with a historical event. CorCom, a conglomeration of various banned outfits of the state, has issued a call for boycotting the visit of Mukherjee.

Manipur CM urges insurgents for talks, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar supports

Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh has made an appeal to the insurgents to come for talks.”If there is a problem, there must be a solution,” Singh was quoted as saying in a release issued by the CM’s secretariat today.Singh made the appeal at an event organised by the Art of Living, Manipur Chapter yesterday. Founder of the Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who was present at the programme, also urged the Chief Minister to ask the insurgents to come to the negotiating table. “Running in the forest will not solve problems,” the spiritual guru said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Before his departure from Imphal this morning, Ravi Shankar told reporters that 20 seats will be reserved for Manipuri students in the Odisha-based Sri Sri University.

UNLF claims responsibility for Imphal blast

Imphal: The proscribed United National Liberation Front (UNLF) has claimed responsibility for the bomb blast that occurred on Wednesday, close to a transit camp of Assam Rifles (AR), which left one AR jawan dead.

Assam Rifles personnel. Representational image. AFP.

Assam Rifles personnel. Representational image. AFP.

In a statement issued to the media on Thursday night, the outfit said its activists triggered the explosion.

The blast had claimed the life of the security personnel and caused injuries to three others, the police officer said.

The AR personnel were on foot patrol at a site located at Ragailong Khuman Lampak Stadium road.

The three injured were identified as Himansu Devnath (31) of West Bengal, K Rameshwor (32) of Manipur and Manish Kumar (28) of Bihar.

The jawan, who succumbed to injuries at a private hospital here on that evening, has been identified as Gukulchand Yadav (32) of Rajasthan, the officer said.

Jawan killed, 3 injured in blast near Assam Rifles camp

One Assam Rifles jawan was killed and three others were injured in a bomb blast at the transit camp of the force near Minuthong in Imphal West district this evening, police said. Unidentified militants planted the powerful bomb near the Assam Rifles camp. The injured were admitted to hospital, police said. Re-enforcement of security forces including Assam Rifles and Manipur Police were sent to the spot after the blast. A search operation was conducted in and around the transit camp like the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex and Namthallong village, police said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>No militant group has claimed responsibility, they said, no one has been arrested.

Manipur: One person injured in explosion in Imphal

One person was injured in an explosion near an oil pump in Minuthong area of Manipur’s capital Imphal on Saturday evening. The exact nature of the blast is yet to be ascertained.The incident took place at around 7.00 pm today. Further details are awaited. Earlier in the evening a hand grenade recovered in Manipur. One High Explosive (HE) hand grenade was recovered from a potato farm during cultivation by farmers from Nachou area in Bishnupur district in Manipur today, a police official said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The hand grenade was taken away by a team of the police bomb squad and safely defused, according the officer said.

Irom Sharmila vows to continue hunger strike even as Imphal court releases her from custody

Imphal: A court in Imphal on Monday released Irom Sharmila, who has been on a 15-year-long hunger strike to press for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, from custody.

“Sharmila was charged with attempting to commit suicide under Section 309 of IPC. However the court found no evidence to establish that she is trying to commit suicide and accordingly ordered her release,” C Momon, Sharmila’s advocate, told reporters.

Given Sharmila’s condition and her resolve to continue her fast unto death, she may be re-arrested as soon as Tuesday, a police officer told IANS.

Irom Sharmila in a file photo. AFPIrom Sharmila in a file photo. AFP

Irom Sharmila in a file photo. AFP

She has been arrested, tried and released several times on the charge of trying to take her own life.

Sharmila is also undergoing trial in the Patiala House court in Delhi on the same charge.

“I shall continue the fast at the footsteps of the Shahid Minar in Imphal town. I will not eat anything till my goal is achieved,” she said while coming out of the court room on Monday.

Sharmila had started her hunger strike on 4 November, 2000. Her main demand is the repeal of the AFSPA, 1958.

She expressed regret over the declining support to her cause, particularly from women activists.

“I am sorry that women activists and civil society organisations have distanced themselves from me and my cause. If they had extended support to my campaign, perhaps by now the AFSPA, which gives carte blanche to the security forces, might have been repealed,” she said.

She further said, “I am not discouraged by the lack of support since I know that victory will be there at last.”

In view of the declining support, however, she has said several times that there should be a public debate on whether she should continue her fast.

She also said that at least one representative each of the numerous civil society organisations should join her in the campaign.

There has been virtually no response to her appeal.

Until her release on Monday, Sharmila was lodged in a security ward of Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal.

She is guarded round-the-clock by jail, police and hospital staff. The government is spending about Rs 70,000 a month on her medication and feeding her through the nose.


87 World War Two bomb shells discovered in Manipur

87 bomb-shells, believed to be from the World War 2 period, have been found at the border town of Moreh during excavation work for construction of a power sub-station.A senior police officer said the bombs were dug out by labourers on Sunday at Chanou locality of Moreh, bordering Myanmar, and is believed to be dating back to the World War 2 period when Japanese troops came to the country in 1944.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Further digging was immediately called off and state forces were guarding the site since Sunday night. The digging resumed this morning after bomb experts rushed from Imphal. The recovered explosives were taken to Moreh police station to be defused, the officer said. The ‘Battle of Imphal’ was a decisive victory for the allies (British India) against the Japanese forces in 1944.Read: Italy closes route over Brenner mountain pass to defuse World War Two bombAlso Read: World War II bomb discovered at German airport, 7 flights cancelled

School van collides with another vehicle in Imphal; 1 dead, 21 others injured

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How the past 15 years transformed the world


Earthquake-affected vendors compelled to set up stalls on streets in Imphal

Over 2000 women vendors have been compelled to set up temporary stalls on the streets of Khwairamband market in the heart of Imphal after they were displaced by the January 4 earthquake.The earthquake-affected vendors on Monday decided to sit on the streets as the state government has still not made any arrangement to rehabilitate them.The pre-dawn earthquake, measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, had caused serious damage to two of the three buildings of Ima market (all-women market) which provided shelter to over 3000 vendors. While the vendors of one fo the buildings have resumed their business as it suffered lesser damage, the other two buildings have been declared totally unsafe for occupancy leaving over 2000 vendors without a shed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state government had earlier notified that a rehabilitation shed would be set up at the public parking of the Temporary Market, but the vendors refused to shift there, stating that the area is too small to accommodate all of them.The state government later assured them that the rehabilitation shed would be set up on the spaces between the markets in Thangal bazaar within 20 days. However, as no sign of construction work has been seen on the proposed site, the affected vendors have been compelled to set up temporary stalls on the streets, footpaths and beneath the BT flyover. Th. Shanti, President, Khwairamband Ima Kethel Semgat Sagatpa Lup informed that the women vendors have decided to sit on the streets till the government provides proper rehabilitation for them. As the vendors have occupied the streets and footpaths, the BT road is facing huge traffic chaos. On the other hand, the vendors are complaining that their livelihood has been greatly affected after the earthquake.“As the market has been scattered here and there, it has created confusion among the customers. As a result, sale has been greatly affected. If the government fails to fulfil its promise to rehabilitate the affected vendors within 20 days, we will suffer a lot as we have to pay loans,” Athokpam Renu, a vendor, said.An expert team from IIT Roorkee had inspected the damaged Ima market buildings last week. Professor Dr Yogendra, who led the team, had said that the present situation of the other building is dangerous and suggested that it should be sealed until it is fully repaired.He further said that the building does not need to be demolished nor any reconstruction is required. He added that it can be repaired and rehabilitated through extensive structural intervention after close analysis.