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Manipur govt extends suspension of mobile data for another week

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the Centre has deployed additional 4,000 paramilitary forces in Manipur in a bid to reopen National Highway-2, the state government on Tuesday extended the suspension of mobile data services for another week.The United Naga Council has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the state.Curfew has been imposed 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.The Centre last week came down heavily on Manipur Government for failing to resolve the economic blockade on the National Highway-2, which has throttled the supply of essential goods.In a scathing letter to Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the state government had taken no steps to ensure that the NH-2 is kept open or at least movement of convoy is made, despite MHA officials being in constant touch with state officials.”For the sake of people of Manipur, I call upon you to discharge these constitutional obligations with utmost promptness, while reiterating Government of India’s commitment to support your forces in keeping NH-2 open,” the letter read.Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who visited Congress-ruled Manipur last week 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.Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) General Secretary Ram Madhav yesterday alleged that the Congress Government in Manipur was not clearing the economic blockade in the state for political benefits, adding that the Manipur Chief Minister should have cleared the blockade.”The Manipur Chief Minister is playing games with lives of people of the valley. The government of India from day one asked him to avail all required support from Centre,” Madhav said.

EC prepares for elections in 5 states, asks MHA to deploy 1 lakh paramilitary personnel

Mon, 26 Dec 2016-10:16pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An estimated one lakh paramilitary personnel along with state police forces are likely to be deployed in the upcoming assembly elections in five states, including politically crucial Uttar Pradesh. Election Commission (EC) has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to make available 1,000 companies (100 personnel in each company) for the assembly elections expected to be held in next two months.The EC has made the request during a recent meeting with the top officials of the MHA which discussed various aspects of security during the polling, official sources said. In addition to the Central forces, police forces of all states will be deployed for the election duties.Sources said that the MHA is expected to accede to the request of the EC and convey its decision to the poll body soon. Assembly elections in Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur are expected to be held in single phase while in Uttar Pradesh it is likely to be multi-phased. The schedule for the polls is likely to be announced by the EC anytime between December 28 and January 4.

Manipur: BJP slams CM Okram Ibobi Singh, Centre rushes 4000 paramiltary personnel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ram Madhav, the National General Secretary of the BJP hit out at Manipur CM Okram Ibobi Singh over the blockade in Manipur by the United Naga Council. He was quoted by ANI: “Manipur CM was asked to take help from forces & clear blockade, but blockade apparently politically suited him, so didn’t do needful. Manipur CM playing games with lives of people of Valley, Govt of India from day one asked him to avail all required support from Centre.”Earlier, the BJP appealed the United Naga Council (UNC) to immediately withdraw the ongoing economic blockade on the highways of Manipur. BJP spokesperson N Biren appealed the UNC to withdraw the blockade which entered its 56th day today and sought “another forum” to achieve its demands.Biren was speaking to the reporters on his return from Delhi, where an eight-member BJP delegation met top central leaders including Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue. Biren said, “The ruling Congress government is answerable to the people of the state for the hardship faced by them”.He questioned whether it has made any formal effort at the Centre regarding the presence of NSCN(IM) camps in the Manipur, the number of its cadre present in the state.He also sought to know whether there have been any effort to demolish the NSCN(IM)’s designated camps in the state as the ceasefire agreement between NSCN(IM) and the Centre does not cover Manipur. Biren also asked whether the state government has made any move to identify the perpetrators of the twin ambush on Manipur police at Lokchao and Bongyang in Tengnoupal district which claimed the lives of three policemen earlier this month. If there has been any such move, BJP demanded that the documents be made public. He also said the BJP was for a neutral CBI or NIA inquiry into the attacks on Manipur police. Later, lone BJP MLA Bishwajit said BJP’s philosophy is nation first, party second and self last. Centre rushes 4000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur The Centre has rushed additional 4,000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur in its efforts to reopen a national highway which has 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 November 1.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.

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

Manipur blockade: Army Chief Dalbir Singh reviews security situation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh arrived in Manipur capital, Imphal on Saturday to review the security situation in the wake of a blockade imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC).General Singh will also visit Assam to review the security situation there. Meanwhile, a curfew from Lamlong Bridge to Pangei area has been relaxed from 6 am to 5 pm. Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju had on Friday visited Manipur to take stock of the situation and asked the state government to step up its efforts in restoring normalcy.Earlier, expressing concern over the long blockade of a highway connecting Manipur, the Home Ministry on Thursday rapped the state government for “failing” to discharge its “constitutional” duties in ensuring smooth flow of traffic on roads despite repeated requests.
ALSO READ AAP, Cong should not do politics on Najeeb Jung’s resignation: Kiren RijijuHome Minister, Rajnath Singh also asked Nagaland Chief Minister, T R Zeliang to ensure there is no disturbance in the movement of vehicles passing through his state, as there have been reports of the Naga Students Federation (NSF) calling for a blockade of vehicles in Nagaland.In a stern message to Manipur Chief Minister, O Ibobi Singh, Rajnath said the state is facing an extremely distressing economic situation because of the continuous blockade of National Highway 2.
ALSO READ Centre slams Manipur Govt over economic blockade The blockade in the state was announced by the UNC after the Manipur Government decided to upgrade the Sadar Hills and Jiribam areas to full-fledged districts. Following the state government’s decision on November 1, UNC militants blocked the Imphal-Dimapur and the Imphal-Jiribam highways indefinitely.

Economic blockade: Three govt offices burnt down in Manipur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three government offices, including that of the office of the recently created Kamjong district, were burnt down on Friday by unidentified persons in Manipur, which is witnessing an economic blockade imposed by United Naga Council. “Around 5 to 6 unidentified persons came around 3 AM and torched the office of Sub-divisional office,” newly appointed Deputy Commissioner Armstrong Pame of Kamjong district said.He said the office of the DC Kamjong was temporarily set up within the SDO office, as the newly built office of DC Kamjong was yet to be inaugurated.The creation of the Kamjong district, which was carved out from the Ukhrul district, has been strongly protested by various Manipur based Naga civil bodies including the Tangkhul Naga Long and United Naga Council (UNC) amongst others.In another incident, two rooms of mini Secretariat were also set on fire by unidentified persons in Ukhrul district in the wee hours today, a police officer said.

Manipur blockade | ‘This is humanitarian crisis’: Centre asks state govt to end ‘worrisome’ conditions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre on Friday reviewed the situation in Manipur in the wake of the crippling economic blockade of a highway, with Union Minister Kiren Rijiju asking the state government to end the “worrisome” conditions that have triggered a “humanitarian crisis”.At a high level meeting attended by the Union Minister of State for Home Rijiju, Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh and senior officials of the central and Manipur governments, the situation in the state was discussed threadbare.Rijiju, who is on a day-long trip to Manipur as a central emissary, stressed that the Manipur government must discharge is “constitutional duties” by ending the blockade and bring back normalcy in state.The blockade on National Highway 2 by United Naga Council (UNC) has been continuing since November 1 crippling normal life in the landlocked state.The UNC has been protesting against the creation of seven new districts in the state.”This is a humanitarian crisis. We want that the Manipur government end the blockade as early as possible. Whatever assistance from the central government is required, we will give,” Rijiju said.”There is a constitutional duty of the state government to bring back normalcy and they should ensure that there is no blockade along the highway,” he told PTI.The Minister of State for Home Affairs, said the ground situation in Manipur continues to be worrisome and the Central government wants that law and order prevail in the state.”I will talk to the state government and will try to find out a solution,” he said.Rijiju said the prices of essential commodities have gone up due to the economic blockade and people have been suffering a lot.So we want the problem to resolves as early as possible, he added.Home Minister Rajnath Singh had on Thursday told Manipur Chief Minister that there has been extremely distressing situation caused by the continuous blockade of National Highway-2, which has caused an acute shortage of essential and other goods in Manipur and breakdown of law and order.The landlocked state has been experiencing severe hardship in supply of essential items since November 1 after United Naga Council (UNC) imposed an indefinite economic blockade on the two national highways that serve as lifeline for the state.

Manipur: 2 MLAs leave BJP, NCP to join Congress

Thu, 22 Dec 2016-10:35am , Imphal , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA and party national secretary Khumukcham Joykishan and Nationalist Congress Party MLA and national secretary Laisom Ibomcha Singh have resigned from their respective parties and joined the Congress party.Joykishan Singh was one of the two sitting BJP MLAs in the 10th Manipur Legislative Assembly from Thangmeiband Assembly constituency. With his resignation, the BJP now has only one sitting MLA, Thongam Bishwajit of Thongju Assembly constituency.Laisom Ibomcha Singh was elected from the Keishamthong Assembly Constituency.The two MLAs said the Centre’s inability to resolve the economic blockade and political crisis in Manipur was the main reason behind their resignation.

Naga group meets Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As Manipur continues to witness violent clashes between warring groups of Meitei, Naga and Kuki on the issue of carving out seven new districts, a delegation from the United Naga Council (UNC), a powerful Naga group responsible for the economic blockade, met union home minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday and demanded imposition of President’s rule in the state.The two-member delegation, vice president T S Warngam and speaker of UNC assembly affairs S Kho John, blamed Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh for orchestrating violence to scuttle the Naga peace process and win the 2017 assembly elections.Union Home Ministry sources said, Rajnath Singh has not given any assurance to the Naga group besides taking up the issue with Manipur Chief Minister. After burning its fingers in Arunachal Pradesh that witnessed strong reaction from the court, the Centre wants to be sure of its action, sources said.

Manipur violence: United Naga Council demands President’s rule in state

New Delhi: The United Naga Council (UNC) on Monday urged the Centre for imposition of President’s rule in Manipur where an economic blockade by the organisation snapped two highways connecting the state.

The demand was placed by the UNC before Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh when a delegation of the group met in New delhi.

“We appeal for imposing President’s rule in Manipur as the state government has failed completely on all fronts and law order has deteriorated. Creation of seven new districts is a ploy by the Manipur Chief Minister for electoral gains,” senior UNC leader Adani Mao said at a press conference in New Delhi.

Images from Sunday's protest against the United Naga Council (UNC)'s indefinite economic blockade. Imphal East: Angry people had set on fire vehicles in Imphal East district but no casualties were reported .PTIImages from Sunday's protest against the United Naga Council (UNC)'s indefinite economic blockade. Imphal East: Angry people had set on fire vehicles in Imphal East district but no casualties were reported .PTI

Images from Sunday’s protest against the United Naga Council (UNC)’s indefinite economic blockade. Imphal East: Angry people had set on fire vehicles in Imphal East district but no casualties were reported .PTI

Mao, the former UNC president, who is at present looking after the affairs of the Council after the arrest of its senior leaders, alleged that Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh was trying “cheap tricks ahead of polls to hide the government’s incompetency”.

Claiming that violence has taken place in several areas of Manipur, Convener for Joint Naga Civil Societies, Lakpachui Siro, accused the Congress-led state government of disrupting peace by creating seven new districts for “electoral gains” ahead of the assembly elections next year.

“The state government is going to upgrade Sadar Hills and Jiribam regions to full-fledged districts without consulting the Nagas who inhabit the areas. Precious lands, which belong to them, are being snatched away and there are unrest in the state,” he said.

The UNC, which has imposed an economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the landlocked state, said Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh decided to create seven new districts “without consulting” the Nagas who, they said, are the most important stakeholders.

The UNC has demanded immediate release of its President Gaidon Kamei and Publicity Secretary Stephen lamkang who they said have been arrested “arbitrarily”.

The UNC has accused Meiteis of creating unrest in the state by killing innocent people, saying Meiteis are not only torching vehicles, burning down houses and looting Nagas, but also attacking places of worships in the state.

A tripartite talk involving a delegation each from the Manipur government, the UNC and the Ministry of Home Affairs was scheduled to be held in Delhi on November 15 on the current situation of the state but the state government did not send anyone to attend that meeting, Siro said.

In a gazette notification issued on 9 December, the state government announced the creation of seven new districts for administrative convenience, taking the total number of districts in the state to 16.

The decision has sharply divided the state’s three main communities which are Meiteis, Nagas and Kukis. Though Meitei and Kuki groups have welcomed the move, the UNC has been protesting against it.

The UNC claim that the decision would bifurcate ancestral lands of Nagas in Manipur.

The Chief Minister said the move was aimed at addressing a long-standing demand of the majority Meitei community and the minority Kukis.

The ongoing economic blockade by UNC launched on 1 November against the state government’s proposed move to create the new districts of Jiribam and Sadar Hills has resulted in black marketing of essential goods.

Out of the nine districts of Manipur, four districts — Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishenpur — are valley districts, and the five rest — Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong, Chandel and Churachandpur — are hill districts.

The five hill districts are tribal districts. Valley districts are smaller with a high density of population but hill districts are sparsely populated.

On Monday, the situation in Manipur remained tense with violence spreading to Senapati district where miscreants torched two vehicles even as the Chief Minister appealed for peace among different ethnic groups of the state.

Indefinite curfew continues to remain in force in Imphal East district where mobile data services were suspended since Sunday to prevent spread of rumours. This will be in force till December 25.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 21:09 IST

Nagaland CM seeks Centre’s intervention to help Nagas in Manipur

Kohima: Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang has sought the intervention of both the Centre and Manipur government in securing the lives and property of Naga people in the Imphal valley of Manipur.

Zeliang in separate letters to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh on Monday drew their attention to the plight of hundreds of Nagas who are stranded in the Imphal valley and claimed that they were prevented from proceeding to their respective villages in the hills after threats to their lives by some valley based organisations.

“It is reported that several buses and other vehicles carrying Nagas have been stopped and torched. It appears that the law enforcing authorities in Imphal are not in a position to check or stop such lawless and violent activities which is endangering the lives of the Nagas in Manipur,” Zeliang wrote in a letter to the Union home minister.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Seeking immediate intervention of the Union home minister to ensure that the lives and property of the Nagas in the Imphal valley are secured, Zeliang assured that all steps were being taken by his government to safeguard the safety of the Meiteis residing in or travelling through Nagaland.

In a separate letter to the prime minister on Monday, lone Lok Sabha MP from Nagaland Neiphiu Rio alleged that the Naga community had been specifically targeted and there was obvious political motivation behind the well-planned attacks on the Nagas in Manipur where communal riots, arson, looting and serious human rights abuses were taking place.

Stating that thousands of people including students who are returning home for the festive season have been impacted,he regretted that even women and children were not spared.

Unfortunately, there was no semblance of law and order or presence of any law enforcing agencies to protect the innocents from the unlawful and anti-social elements, he alleged.

The urgent need of the hour was direct intervention of the Central government to ensure maintenance of law and order and security for the innocent public, Rio said.

Stating that the Central government can no longer remain a silent spectator, Rio demanded that a “high-level investigation team by an appropriate agency should be formed so that the spirit of democracy was retained and the culprits were punished as per laws of the land.”

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 18:23 IST

Naga Students Federation imposes ‘total blockade’ of Manipur-bound vehicles

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Naga Students Federation (NSF) has decided to impose a “total blockade” on all Manipur-bound vehicles, including passenger and goods carriers, in all Naga- inhabited areas till the Manipur government gave its assurance to Naga people about their safety and security in that state.Many innocent Naga travellers in Manipur were assaulted, their vehicles set on fire and luggages damaged on the highways in the past few days, NSF president Subenthung Kithan alleged.A mob had vandalised 22 vehicles on Imphal-Ukhrul Road on December 18.In this regard, Kithan said, the decision to impose a total blockage on Manipur vehicles, including passenger and good carriers, was taken.The NSF chief also cautioned that anybody travelling from Naga-inhabited areas to Manipur would be doing so at his or her own risk.Kithan, however, said NSF would exempt students travelling back to Manipur from their vacations.The United Naga Council (UNC) has imposed an indefinite economic blockade on the National Highways of Manipur since November 1 hampering supply of essential items.The UNC has been agitating against the Manipur government’s decision to create Sadar Hills and Jiribam into full fledged districts, claiming it would bifurcate ancestral lands of Nagas in the state.

Manipur: NSF imposes ‘total blockade’ of Manipur-bound vehicles in Naga dominated areas

Kohima: The Naga Students Federation (NSF) has decided to impose a “total blockade” on all Manipur-bound vehicles, including passenger and goods carriers, in all Naga-inhabited areas till the Manipur government gave its assurance to Naga people about their safety and security in that state.

Images from Sunday's protest against the United Naga Council (UNC)'s indefinite economic blockade. Imphal East: Angry people had set on fire vehicles in Imphal East district but no casualties were reported .PTI

Images from Sunday’s protest against the United Naga Council (UNC)’s indefinite economic blockade. A mob had vandalised 22 vehicles on Imphal-Ukhrul Road on 18 December. PTI

Many innocent Naga travellers in Manipur were assaulted, their vehicles set on fire and luggages damaged on the highways in the past few days, NSF president Subenthung Kithan alleged on Tuesday.

A mob had vandalised 22 vehicles on Imphal-Ukhrul Road on 18 December.

In this regard, Kithan said, the decision to impose a total blockage on Manipur vehicles, including passenger and good carriers, was taken.

The NSF chief also cautioned that anybody travelling from Naga-inhabited areas to Manipur would be doing so at his or her own risk.

Kithan, however, said NSF would exempt students travelling back to Manipur from their vacations. The United Naga Council (UNC) has imposed an indefinite economic blockade on the National Highways of Manipur since 1 November hampering supply of essential items.

The UNC has been agitating against the Manipur government’s decision to create Sadar Hills and Jiribam into full fledged districts, claiming it would bifurcate ancestral lands of Nagas in the state.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 15:00 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: Curfew imposed in Imphal East district in view of continued violence

Sun, 18 Dec 2016-08:14pm , Imphal , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Curfew was imposed on Sunday in certain parts of Imphal East district of Manipur in view of continued violence in the region following Friday’s triple blasts. The curfew comes into force from this noon and covers Porompat and Sawombung subdivisions of Imphal East district and will continue till further directions, an order issued by the District Magistrate said.The government’s decision to clamp the curfew follows the shutting down of mobile internet services in Imphal West district to halt spreading of rumours through social networking sites. The landlocked state has been experiencing severe hardship in supply of essential items since November 1 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.Tension in the state 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.

Manipur: Curfew imposed in parts of Imphal East district after continued violence

Manipur: Curfew imposed in parts of Imphal East district after continued violence

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Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Imphal: Curfew was imposed on Sunday in certain parts of Imphal East district of Manipur in view of continued violence in the region following Friday’s triple blasts. The curfew comes into force from this noon and covers Porompat and Sawombung subdivisions of Imphal East district and will continue till further directions, an order issued by the District Magistrate said.

The government’s decision to clamp the curfew follows the shutting down of mobile internet services in Imphal West district to halt spreading of rumours through social networking sites. 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. Tension in the state 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 yesterday in Tamenglong district and fled with nine service weapons.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 17:34 IST

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Manipur: Internet services shut down in Imphal West dist following three blasts

Manipur: Internet services shut down in Imphal West dist following three blasts

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Imphal: Taking serious note on the prevailing situation following three blasts on Friday, the state
Cabinet has decided to shut down Internet service in Imphal West district with immediate effect.

The Imphal West District Magistrate issued an order directing telecom operators to shut down mobile data service in the district immediately until further orders.

Manipur police. Representational image. PTI

Manipur police. Representational image. PTI

Major areas of the state capital fall in Imphal West district where the three blasts had taken place within an hour on Friday evening.

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.

The move was preceded by a 24-hour bandh called to protest hill based militants’ attacks on Manipur police in the last few days in different parts of the state that left three policemen dead and 14 others injured. The militants also snatched several weapons from the IRB personnel.

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.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 12:57 IST

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Ahead of Christmas, Mizoram govt inks truce with rebel outfit to ensure peace

Aizawl: Days before Christmas, the Mizoram government signed a ceasefire agreement with a militant outfit to facilitate people of the Christian-dominated state to celebrate the carnival and New Year under undisturbed ambience, an official said in Aizawl on Saturday.

The Mizoram government has been holding peace talks with Manipur-based terror outfit Hmar People’s Convention-Democratic (HPC-D) to find a solution of the outfit’s demand for an autonomous council.

Silent for now. ReutersSilent for now. Reuters

Silent for now. Reuters

The third round of talks between the Mizoram government and the HPC-D held in Aizawl on Friday in which the outfit members deposited three AK-47 rifles, one INSAS rifle, four point 9 mm pistols, 17 magazines of different arms and 74 rounds of ammunition. These arms and ammunition were earlier snatched by the terror outfit from the Mizoram police.

The six-member HPC-D team was led by the group’s working chairman LT Hmar and the outfit’s leaders from Manipur and Mizoram while the government delegation was headed by additional secretary (home department) Lalbiakzama.

“We have signed a temporary ceasefire agreement with the militant outfit to make easy people of the state to celebrate Christmas and New Year under a peaceful environment. The third rounds of talks were held under friendly atmosphere,” Lalbiakzama said, adding that both sides agreed to resume the fourth round of talks by mid-February next year.

The first round of peace talks between the Mizoram government and the HPC-D was held on 10 August and the second round on 5-6 October.

Lalbiakzama said that issues discussed in the talks included more autonomy and power to Sinlung Hill Development Council, which was functioning since 1994 in the northeastern part of the state neighbouring Manipur where a large number of tribals belonging to Hmar tribes are living.

HPC-D A leader LT Hmar after the meeting, said, “The demand for Hmar autonomous district council was no longer included in the talks.”

The Manipur-based militant outfit of the Hmar tribals has been triggering intermittent violent activities in Mizoram since 1994 demanding a separate autonomous district council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution by carving out areas adjoining southern Manipur, northern Mizoram and southern Assam.

The negotiations between the state government and the HPC-D reached an impasse in 2013 on the issue of extension of the period of suspension of operations.

A six-month ceasefire between the Mizoram government and the militant outfit expired on 31 July 2013.

The state government held inconclusive talks with the outfit on 14 August 2013, to extend the period of ceasefire.

After the talks broke down over the suspension of operations against the terror group, a host of leaders of the outfit were arrested.

On 28 March 2015, the HPC-D guerillas ambushed a legislator’s convoy near Zokhawthlang village in north Mizoram, leaving three policemen dead and six others seriously wounded.

Mizoram is the first and only state in India which received Rs 182.45 crore from the central government in 2000-01 as “Peace Bonus” for keeping peace after decades of insurgency.

As Mizo National Front’s founder leader Laldenga, a former Indian Army official, became chief minister in 1986 after his group took to mainstream politics, peace and law and order returned to the Christian-majority Mizoram.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 16:21 IST

Manipur: Nearly 70 terrorists attack IRB post, snatch weapons

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nearly 70 NSCN – IM terrorists attacked the Nungkao post of the 6th Manipur Rifles and 7th Indian Reserve Battalion in Noney district of Manipur, says News 18 report. The terrorists also snatched away their loaded weapons. The incident occurred at 11.00 am on Saturday. The attack could be in retaliation to the creation of seven districts by CM Okram Ibobi government.Suspected cadres of NSCN-IM had ambushed with police personnels heading to an inauguration of a newly-created district cut out of Naga-dominated regions on Friday. A Manipur Police commando and two police constables were killed while nine others were injured in the attack.The National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) has been openly opposing the creation of the new districts. A few days back, the NSCN-IM, which had been ensuing in peace talk with the government of India, had threatened serious consequences if the decision for creation of new district has not been withdrawn.Manipur also sees elections around February 2017. With agency inputs

Joint Naga Civil Society wants separation from Manipur, vows to intensify agitation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Joint Naga Civil Societies (CJNCSD) on Friday vowed to intensify the agitation and asserts that nothing short of total separation from the State of Manipur would resolve the Naga issue. CJNCSD decries the forcible inauguration of Kangpokpi, Jiribam and Tengnaopal as new districts despite the staunch opposition from the Nagas and consequently appeals UNC to convene Naga people’s convention to declare the Naga areas in Manipur a separate statehood and run the existing institutions as per the Naga customary law and practices. “CJNCSD invokes all the Tribal Hohos to burn down every Manipuri textbook and appeals them to notify every educational institution for immediate termination of Manipuri/meiteilon as the medium of instruction in schools. CJNCSD further implores all the Tribal Hohos to henceforth boycott any posting or deputation of any valley-based Government employees to any Government institutions in the Naga areas,” said a statement issued by the society.CJNCSD also took a jibe at the deliberate silence of the Centre in creating the seven new districts in Manipur which very act amounts to redrawing of Naga boundaries without any constitutional mandate and jurisdiction.It also questions if the Centre?s sole intention is to retract the August 3, 2015 Framework Agreement by deploying additional armed forces in aid of the unconstitutional and anti-Naga policies of Ibobi Government.CJNCSD questions the wisdom of Manipur Government as to how it expects UNC to call off the ongoing agitation prior to the release of the two UNC leaders and recalls the formation of the new seven districts. “CJNCSD states that the state government?s project not only disrespects the aspiration of the Nagas, but also insults the Naga people beyond tolerance and the Nagas will resort to any democratic means of protest available in defending their land, identity and culture as land and the Nagas are inseparable.”

Four years since Jyoti Singh’s death, yet poor governance fails to protect women

Violence is immortal. Out of helplessness, it is predicted; out of fear, it is anticipated. It breaks into the warm walls of the psyche and freezes in one dark corner of it. Time and again, it sends chills down the spine. Since 2012, on each 16 December, a sharp coldness returns to stab Delhi in the back. This was the night that turned a 23-year-old paramedic, against her will, into a symbol of oppression against women. Raped, injured and left to die on a busy Delhi road, her own identity had an anonymous end. Jyoti Singh lives on as Nirbhaya, a reminder that violence lives next door.

Back then, debates on moral conditioning and legal action took off like missiles, turning public discourse into a battlefield of spontaneous opinions. But there was one more factor that needed some serious addressing, and it still does. Her rapists had a history of drug addiction.

For over 25,000 drug addicts in need of urgent relief in the capital, the government offers only five drug de-addiction centres, which too are jointly run by NGOs and are struggling for clearance of funds. Why doesn’t the 2013 Mental Health Care Bill feature a provision for rescue services, where the doctors have the right to pick up addicts from the street and cure them?

Drugs are about denial and quite rarely will an addict want to believe that he or she is in need of help; even families and friends don’t want to accept it as a problem. Hemant Kumar, a family counsellor at the Nasha Mukti Kendra in Amberhai in Dwarka, Delhi was an addict for nearly two decades. He says that there is great restlessness and a wave of nastiness that takes over an addict and at that point acts like robbery, inflicting harm on someone, to raping or abusing a woman, become vents for the rage erupting inside. Are women in Delhi, then, not vulnerable at the hands of those afflicted with drug problems, who roam around uncured?

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a total of 3,37,922 cases of crime against women (both under various sections of IPC and SLL) were reported in the country during the year 2014, as compared to 3,09,546 in the year 2013; thus showing an increase of 9.2 percent during the year 2014.

File image of protests in Delhi following the rape of Jyoti Singh in 2012. PTIFile image of protests in Delhi following the rape of Jyoti Singh in 2012. PTI

File image of protests in Delhi following the Nirbhaya rape case in 2012. PTI

Incidents of incest rape (rape by blood relatives like father, brother etc.) in the country have increased by 25.7 percent during 2014 over the previous year (from 536 cases in 2013 to 674 cases in 2014). Delhi (140 cases with 144 victims) has reported the highest number of such incidents followed by Maharashtra (94 cases with 102 victims) and Kerala (62 cases with 63 victims). There were 713 victims for 674 reported incest rape cases in the country during the year 2014.

Crimes have continuously increased during 2010-2014 with 2,13,585 cases reported in 2010, which increased to 2,28,649 cases in 2011, which further increased to 2,44,270 cases in 2012 and 3,09,546 cases in 2013. In 2014, a total of 3,37,922 such cases were reported.

The rate for crimes against women was reported as 56.3 in 2014. Delhi has reported the highest crime rate (169.1) compared to 56.3 at all India level during the year 2014, followed by Assam (123.4), Rajasthan (91.4), Tripura (88.0), West Bengal (85.4), Madhya Pradesh (79.0) and Telangana (78.3).

Rape cases in the capital are registered by the police, who give the statistics to the NCRB and are reported by the media. But what about women in conflict zones, where an overcast of political complications shadows the crimes against them?

“In Kashmir, women have directly and indirectly been victims of violence, I would say, survivors of violence. Whether it is a women being raped, beaten up or humiliated by the government forces or even often due to domestic violence. The indirect impact of violence on women has also been when their male family members are subjected to torture, killing or kidnappings by the forces. When a son is arrested, it is the mother who faces the impact of it or if her husband has been arrested or treated inhumanely,” said Fahad Shah , a journalist and writer from Kashmir.

Munaza Rashid, lawyer at the Kashmir High Court, said that Jyoti Singh’s rape wasn’t planned. In Kashmir, assaults against women in villages are planned. “During the recent agitation that has lasted five months, there were plenty of reports about pellets being fired at the men but no one talked about how the armed forces go and attack the homes of the protesters, where the wives and daughters of these men are. They know what will hurt these men the most. In some cases, in the name of a combing operation, they intrude into their private belongings – sanitary pads and undergarments – and perform an act of mental molestation,” Rashid said.

She explains that if this issue is raised, it will be perceived as an attempt to malign the forces. She says that women’s issues in Kashmir need to be raised by women’s voices that are independent and not bound by the Hurriyat or political agenda. Since three years, she informs, civil society activism has grown and women are finding a platform to open up in front of other women.

In 2014, 23 February was declared Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day. On this day, in 1991, a Battalion of the 4th Rajputana Rifles of the 68th Brigade had conducted a cordon-and search operation in the adjacent Kunan- Poshpora villages in Kupwara.

The villagers allege that when the army cordoned off the village, the men were taken to a field for interrogation overnight and the women were gang-raped in their homes. “In North Kashmir, three to four years ago, a woman’s husband was in jail. Whenever she went to visit him, she’d be raped by the jailer. To protect her husband from his onslaught, she kept quiet,” informs Ifrah Butt of J&K Coalition of Civil Society, research and advocacy based in Srinagar.

At a sessions court during the hearing of the Kunan-Poshpora case, a senior Army counsel had said, recounts Butt, that it is like ”flogging a dead horse”, implying that the women should let go of it.

In the North East, another part of the country torn by violence, women are fighting another kind of battle. More than 15,000 women were raped in Assam in the last 15 years. On 12 December, to commemorate Nupi Lan or Women’s War that was fought in 1904 and 1939, the Representation of Women in Peace Negotiations Bill, 2016 was submitted to the Parliament.

“We have proposed the framework of a peace committee for women that will be their voice in governance,” said Kalyani Mathur, Project Officer at Control Arms Foundation of India. Sadly, only two women have participated in the 17 peace talks on the North East.

“The government only talks to men with guns. Women have been absent in every form of decision making. We want to change the power-dynamic,” said Binalakshmi Nepram, founder of the Manipur Gun Survivors Network, which has saved and help rebuild more than 20,000 lives displaced and damaged by violence.

In the capital, there is a concentration of five to seven lakh Indians from the North East and 66 percent come here for higher studies. In a place like Manipur, explains Nepram, a three year degree will take five years because of constant combing operations, bandhs and lockdowns. Once, a lock down had lasted for 100 days, she recounts.

When they migrate to Delhi, there’s a great chance that they will be perceived as ‘sexually available’, owing to differences that stem, quite naively and only, from culture. In 2014, the rape of girl by a Phd-IIT scholar was being portrayed as a case of stove-burning by the Police, till the girl’s sister demanded a second post-mortem and strangulation marks were detected.

Multiple cases of rape and murder of North Eastern girls have surfaced in Munirka, South Delhi, in the last three to four years. “After the Jyoti Singh incident, we submitted recommendations for special protection measures for rape in conflict areas. Justice Verma recorded it in his almost 600-page document, but when the Government of India drafted the Anti Rape Law, the whole section of rape in conflict areas had been taken out,” she said. The Delhi office of CAFI has counselled many rape victims from the North East and even packed their bodies and sent them back home.

‘Ache waqton ki tammana mein rahee umra rawaan’. It seems that women in the country will have to wait a long time to witness good times, where they can feel safe and free.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 09:35 IST

Uttar Pradesh govt asked to reschedule next year’s state board examination

Election Commission had shot off letters to Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa on Thursday asking them to not announce exam schedules without consulting it. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Election Commission is set to ask the Uttar Pradesh government to reschedule next year’s state board examination dates in consultation with it so as to ensure there is no clash with the assembly polls due early next year. The Uttar Pradesh Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad (UPMSP) had declared the schedule for the next year’s board examination in Allahabad on Thursday.Within hours, the Commission shot off letters to poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa not to announce exam schedules without consulting it. Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer T Venkatesh was in Delhi on Friday and held meetings with top poll panel officials, including Deputy Election Commissioner Vijay Dev, in charge of the state.Sources in the Commission said citing its Thursday’s letter the poll panel is set to ask the Uttar Pradesh government to reschedule its exam dates in consultation with it. “The five states have been asked to consult us before finalising the exam schedule. Therefore, it is clear that Uttar Pradesh will also have to consult the Commission,” a top official said.

Do not announce exam dates without consulting us: Election Commission to 5 states

Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa were asked not to announce examination schedules without consulting Election Commission. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Assembly elections due early next year in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, the Election Commission on Thursday asked the poll-bound states not to announce examination schedules without consulting it. “The Commission is aware that the annual examination at various levels of educational institutions in the states are generally due in the first half of the next year.”The Commission wants that there is no clash between the programme of the elections…and the examination schedule that may be framed by various state education boards,” the Commission told the states.The poll body pointed out that it is a Constitutional mandate to hold the elections well before the expiry of the term of the Legislative Assembly and it is in the “advance stages” of considering a schedule for holding the elections. While, the term of the Legislative Assemblies of Goa, Manipur and Punjab are coming to an end on March 18, that of Uttarakhand will expire on March 26. The term of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly will expire on May 27. The EC is likely to announce the poll schedule for these states sometime later this month or early January.

Arunachal Pradesh: Two soldiers killed, eight injured as militants ambush Assam Rifles convoy

Guwahati: Two soldiers were killed and eight others injured as militants, believed to be from the banned Naga outfit NSCN-K, ambushed a convoy of the Assam Rifles along the India-Myanmar border in Arunachal Pradesh on Saturday, a defence spokesman said.

An Assam Rifle spokesman said the attack took place at Nginu village in Tirap district, in the radius of 20 km from the border.

“Soldiers belonging to the 16 Assam Rifles were returning from a patrol when the heavily armed militants fired at them. While two of them including a JCO (junior commissioner officer) died, eight others were injured. The condition of two of them are stated to be serious,” the spokesman said adding more forces have been sent to launch counter-insurgency operations in and around the area.

“We believe it to be the handiwork of anti-talk faction, Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang militants who have some presence in Tirap district.

On 19 November, a combined team of the NSCN-K and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) had carried out an ambush on Army personnel in Assam’s Tinsukia district, killing three soldiers and injuring four others.

After this attack, the United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW), which is a joint platform of all the northeastern militant outfits ambushed a group of commandos of 21 Para in Chandel district of Manipur on November 26, injuring five soldiers.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 21:20 IST

Nagas strongly condemn the arrest of UNC President in Manipur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police in Manipur have arrested United Naga Council (UNC) President Gaidon Kamei and UNC Information Secretary Stephen Lamkang from Pheidinga area Imphal West district, on charges of them spearheading the indefinite economic blockade on the national highways in the northeastern region.The Forum for Understanding the Naga-India Conflict and Human Rights (FUNICH) has condemned the state government for its discriminatory action against Naga people by arresting its tallest civil apex body leader.”The state government must know that the United Naga Council (UNC) President, Gaidon Kamei, represents the voice of all the Nagas whose areas fall within the state jurisdiction of Manipur on issue of land, Naga culture, tradition and customary law. It is unfortunate that the state government arrested the leader for asserting the inherent indigenous peoples’ rights of the Naga people in Manipur state,” said the statement.”The Manipur state government clearly knows that the ongoing blockade in the hill districts of Manipur state, especially in the four Naga inhabited hill districts, is the direct result of the state government attempt to address issue of Sadar Hills and Jiribam disregarding previous Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Naga Civil bodies and Governments of India and the State. Rather than addressing the issue democratically, State Government imprisoning the Naga leader amount to State inability to address genuine concerns of the people inhabiting within the State jurisdiction. If at all the State Government is serious on the issue, taking the confidence of all the stakeholders is expected. However, in the present case, the State Government has completely ignored the voice of all the stakeholders,” added the statement.Many Naga civil societies, human rights organizations, scholars and students and many like-minded people has strongly condemned the arrest of UNC President and its information secretary Stephen Lamkang by the Manipur state police in view of imposing the economic blockade in the state.Further the statement said that “Manipur state government actions to address the issue of Sardar Hill and Jiribam is nothing more than a political gimmick to come back to power in the State. This is not the first time that the State Government under the Congress Party leadership has played communal politics in the State on the issue related to land when election is nearing, yet the issue remains. It means that the state government or the Congress Party is not serious at all to resolve the issue but rather using it for its own political mileage.”The statement also mentioned that “the State Government is playing with the emotion of the hill peoples as well the valley peoples by creating communal tension. The state government instead of creating conducive environment for dialogue and discussion amongst the stakeholders, it is busy creating social tensions amongst various ethnic communities with clear intention to come back to power.”The statement alleged that the State Government rationalize the plan for Sadar Hill and Jiribam district creation purely on administrative convenience. FUNICH press release also added that “if we look at the map of the proposed Sadar Hill District, it looks like Octopus tentacles touching every Hill Districts. Hence, if it is for the sake of administrative convenience, it will be much better off if those hill areas are integrated with Tamenglong, Chandel and Ukhrul Districts of the hill districts. As for the Jiribam, Manipur Governments never had a problem of putting Jiribam within Imphal East district administration for this many years although it is more than 100 KM away from the Imphal East district headquarter passing through Tamenglong District. If we go by logic and common sense it should be part of Tamenglong district or should have been within Churachapur district, but this was never an issue.””Therefore, no amount of excuses will justify the action of State Government arresting leader of the most respected traditional social institution of the Nagas in the State. Therefore, the Forum appeals the State Government and Centre Government for unconditional and immediate release of the Naga leader for lasting peaceful co-existence of various ethnic communities in the State,” said the press release.Many Naga organizations, civil societies and student organizations have demanded his immediate release without any condition to avert any ugly fall outs.

Rajnath Singh warns of violence during Assembly polls, urges police to stay vigilant

Hyderabad: Ahead of Assembly polls in five states, Home Minister Rajnath Singh asked security forces to guard against attempts to disturb peace through “vicious” political campaign or by external extremist forces during the election process.

Inaugurating the three-day annual DGPs/IGPs conference here, Singh said elections will be held in some states soon and it is the responsibility of police chiefs to ensure peaceful completion of the poll process.

Rajnath Singh. Reuters file imageRajnath Singh. Reuters file image

Rajnath Singh. Reuters file image

“We have to keep strict vigil against external extremist elements who may try to create disturbance in Punjab. There have been increased activities by Sikh terrorists in recent months. Similarly, in Manipur, we have to ensure peace keeping in mind the ethnic divide. In Uttar Pradesh too, there may be attempts to disturb law and order through vicious political campaigning. We have to keep strict vigil and take proper steps to ensure peace during elections,” he said.

Assembly elections are due in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa early next year.

Around 100 directors generals of police and inspectors generals of police from several states and Union Territories and heads of central police organisations are attending the conference, taking place at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy here.

Maintaining that threats of self-radicalisation and lone wolf attacks have been increasing, the home minister said there was no let up in Pakistan’s support to terror and anti-India activities.

“We all know that a neighbouring country has been trying to instigate people in northern parts of the country to indulge in anti-India activities, providing training to terrorists and sending them to India to carry out in terror attacks. Despite all these efforts, the credit for maintaining peace in the country goes to security and intelligence agencies,” he said.

Referring to the threat of ISIS, Singh said due to close coordination between state and central forces, the youths, who were influenced by the terror group, have not been able to successfully carry out any strike in the country yet. “So far, 67 youths, who were influenced by the ISIS, have been arrested while planning to carry out terror attack. We have to be fully alert against any such design. The whole world is worried about the terror activities of the ISIS. This is a big challenge for our country. I am confident that in the we will be able to face the challenge posed by the ISIS together,” he said.

First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 22:54 IST

Imphal: 1 killed in blast in Manipur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One person was killed when a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) went off at Chingamathak area in Imphal West district, few metres away from an Assam Rifles camp, in Manipur this morning, police said.The blast occurred at 8:10 am and the IED is suspected to have been planted by unknown militants, a senior police officer said. The deceased, stated to be a non-Manipuri, was en route to his iron and cement store when he fell victim to the explosion nearby, the officer said.The site of the blast is few metres away from an Assam Rifles camp, the officer said, adding that the personnel rushed to the spot and cordoned off the area.

Demonetisation aftermath: Women, children in Manipur hard hit due to currency ban

By Maya Palit

The past 10 days have been fraught with harrowing stories about people across the country struggling with the aftermath of demonetisation. A recent essay by the former Chairman of the National Statistical Commission Pronab Sen even speculated that the overnight action might well have destroyed the informal sector permanently while also having a hugely adverse impact on chit funds and other non-banking lending institutions. It is now a familiar story. But add to this the chaos of an economic blockade and you have the nightmare that Manipuri citizens are living through at the moment.

A file image of people standing at an ATM queue. Reuters

A file image of people standing at an ATM queue. Reuters

The United Naga Council (UNC) had organised a 48-hour strike – a “total shutdown in Naga territories in Manipur” – from 30 October midnight to protest the Manipur government’s proposition to create two new districts, Sadar Hills and Jiribam, in regions that include Naga ancestral land. This is a decision that apparently goes against the four MOUs, signed between 1981 and 1998, which were agreed upon by the Naga organisations and the Manipur government. An article in the Morung Express argues that the Manipur government’s inconsistent stance as regards the Naga and Kuki communities might be largely responsible for the extremity of the current situation.

The 48-hour strike immediately transitioned into an indefinite economic blockade imposed on Manipur’s two national highways on 1 November. Two weeks later, there are no signs of it being lifted and citizens are understandably despondent. The horror of the situation can be gauged by Imphal resident Raees Ahmed being quoted in The Citizen today: “We are going to die like this,” he laments, having forked out Rs 700 for two litres of petrol for his vehicle. Reports from last week said there was no more diesel, kerosene or LPG cylinders available in Manipur.

Frustratingly, some 150 oil tankers are stranded in Assam and 1,800 trucks with food supplies being unable to pass beyond the Manipur border, although fuel tankers carrying fuel and consumer items, including food stuff, were escorted into the State by police commandos on 16 November.

Unsurprisingly, the black market has gone into overdrive. Though several petrol pumps remained closed early into the blockade, petrol was already going for Rs 250 a litre in Imphal and higher than that in surrounding districts. The blockade has hit schoolchildren. Exams are round the corner and school vans have suspended services because of unavailability of fuel, and two major newspapers decided on 17 November to halt publication of the 20 dailies Imphal brings out because they have run out of money.

Mary Beth Sanate, a human rights activist based in Churachandpur, a district in southwestern Manipur, says that the high cost of petrol and diesel has created immense problems for women vendors. Autorickshaws have doubled their fares. The prices of onions, potatoes, garlic and fruits that come from outside the state have spiralled, so even if the women were able to avail themselves of transport and sell their produce, they would find themselves with an unviable profit margin.

Sanate adds that the already grim situation has been exacerbated by demonetisation. “A significant number of women in the districts make a living by selling eatables imported from Burma or cooked meals door-to-door. Some women sell the clothes they weave. For half a month now, they either haven’t got their stocks or haven’t been able to make it to the state capital. Their incomes have stopped. Demonetisation is making things worse each day, and it’s been the hardest on single mothers. School examinations are approaching and all tuition fees are due this month. One of my neighbours, a widow, waited at the bank for three days and couldn’t withdraw money for her child’s fees,” she says.

Playwright and theatre director Swar Thounajam agrees that the worst affected groups are women vendors. She points out that those from outside Imphal usually travel to the city early morning when trading begins around 4.30 am. They catch the line buses to reach the Khwairamband bazar,the iconic women’s only market in Imphal. Naturally, with the national highway being blocked, this system has been completely disrupted.

Post-demonetisation, women who run kiosks and shops don’t have to return to customers and hence are forced to shut their establishments. Instead of selling their ware to keep home fires burning, they now find themselves standing in queues before banks as early as 4 am for precious cash, says Thounajam

“Women, who were part of a marup (an informal lending system popular in the Meitei community where 15 to 30 women come together, borrow money and pay back Rs 5,000 or Rs 10,000 a month), are in even worse trouble, with no legal tender available,” she adds.

And then there are women rendered effectively unemployed by demonetisation – those who sell cinema tickets in black in Imphal, for instance. Desperate with their precious income cut off overnight, they are apparently taking up work as stand-ins in the ubiquitous, snaking cash queues at banks in return for a small commission.

Meanwhile, citizens in Manipur, furious with the United Naga Council, have initiated a counter-blockade. Last week, a large number of women were allegedly amongst the protestors intercepting cars on the Imphal-Ukhrul road and other parts of the state, gunning for the UNC, which they accuse of destabilising life in the state. A woman, who lives in a part of Ukhrul with a high Naga population, says it was in full force in her area: “The counter-blockade by the valley people is even worse than the economic blockade. They are attacking Naga people, seizing their bags and their belongings.”

Needless to say, this ruthless backlash against the Naga peoples and the sudden demonetisation could well be the last straw for Manipur’s citizens, already burdened by the cessation of transport, loss of daily wages, price increase of vegetables and essential commodities, and the scarcity of stocks for reselling.

Now that the Centre’s attempts at intervention in the UNC-Manipur government conflict have not headed anywhere, there seems to be no end to their misery.

The Ladies Finger (TLF) is a leading online women’s magazine delivering fresh and witty perspectives on politics, culture, health, sex, work and everything in between.

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 13:45 IST

Demonetization: People in northeastern states welcome PM Modi’s move against black money

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The central government’s move to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination currency notes evoked mixed reactions with the common people generally welcoming it in Assam, Tripura, Mizoram and some other places in northeast India.Although markets and other businesses in different parts of the state witnessed low-key activity due to the demonetization, most praised it as a step towards freeing the country of black money.From exchanging the demonetized 500 and 1,000 rupees notes to depositing and withdrawing cash, people were seen in long queues outside cash deposit counters and ATMs in Assam’s Guwahati city after Prime Minister Modi’s decision to ban the existing 500 and 1000 rupee notes that took the entire nation by surprise. Understandably, people had to face problems but they lauded the step of the government. “This is a huge success for the government for us and the entire nation. But the government should have given us time so that people would know the use of money during such hard times. I too have cash with me to deposit but let’s see what will happen. It would be miracle for us if something good happens out of it,” said a local from Guwahati.In the remote north-eastern province of Arunachal Pradesh, ATMs and banks were flooded by people, however, they were of the view that it was a short-term pain for a long-term gain. “Decision is good. For one to two months general people will face great difficulties but that is for time being . I am sure it will reap great benefits for us. It is definitely for the good of the public because these will great difference in the development scenario of the country,” said a local from Arunachal Pradesh. “It is a great initiative undertaken by our PM. Public’s money are all used as black money and not for the welfare of the people but such initiative is helping people to get back their money,” he added.In Manipur, security was beefed up as people in large numbers rushed to the banks to exchange notes and deposit cash. People were allowed to enter the banks in batches for depositing the amount. Patience wore thin after standing in long queues as depositors especially senior citizens were seen lining up since 6 am on Friday morning. “It is good but for people like us who only keep small amount of money for daily use will be very difficult. Now if we need to buy certain things from shops, shopkeepers are not accepting it as the 500 and 1000 notes are no more legal. The decision by Modi is good but abrupt as for common people it has really become a difficulty,” said a senior citizen Robin from Manipur.In Nagaland, security was beefed up outside bank branches as people struggling to buy daily items lined up to get Rs 100 currency notes. “My daughter is getting married this month but we are unable to do any kind of preparations. Shopkeepers are not accepting old notes it is creating great difficulties for us. I am sick. It is really creating problem for us. Could not express my problem in front of anybody,” said a local from Nagaland.In Tripura, people supported Modi’s bold step saying the absence of large-denomination notes will make it harder for people to hoard black money. “For time being some public will be affected of course but as a whole public and country will be benefited. To stop black-marketing this is going on for the last few months. This step is good and perfect,” said a local from Tripura.The government move is part of its efforts to tackle the triple menace of black money, fake currency and terror financing. It will not only curb the menace of black money, but will also help the government in improving its finances which can be used for public spending.

Manipur newspaper publications shut due to demonetization

Fri, 18 Nov 2016-09:55am , Imphal , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The publication of newspapers in Manipur will be stopped from Friday due to demonetization.In a joint meeting held Thursday afternoon in Manipur capital Imphal, the All Manipur Newspaper Publishers Association and the All Manipur Newspaper Sales and Distributors Association unanimously decided to stop the publication of newspapers across the state from Friday. In a joint statement, the associations said the decision to stop publication of newspapers is an after effect of the demonetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee currencies. The statement further said that the non-availability of adequate legal tender notes has prevented regular circulation of newspapers.It also said that the inability of newspaper distributors to pay newspaper offices and the latter’s refusal to receive these notes has compelled this action.

Voters have right to know educational qualification of candidates: SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Voters have a fundamental right to know the academic qualification of a candidate and any false declaration on this count can warrant rejection of nomination papers, the Supreme Court has held.”Every voter has a fundamental right to know about the educational qualification of a candidate. It is also clear from the provisions of the Act, Rules and Form 26 that there is a duty cast on the candidates to give correct information about their educational qualifications,” a bench comprising Justices A R Dave and L Nageswara Rao said. The apex court also ruled that if there are only two candidates in the fray and it is proved that the returned candidate’s nomination papers have been “improperly accepted”, then the one who lost the poll does not need to produce proof that the election has been materially affected.The verdict came on two cross appeals filed by Mairembam Prithviraj alias Prithviraj Singh and Pukhrem Sharatchandra Singh against each other challenging the judgment of the High Court of Manipur. The High Court had declared as “void” the election of Prithviraj, who had contested the 2012 polls on a Nationalist Congress Party ticket against Congress nominee Sharatchandra from Moirang Assembly seat in Manipur. It was alleged that Prithviraj, in his nomination papers, had said he was an MBA, which was found to be incorrect.Upholding the High Court verdict, Justice Rao, writing the verdict for the apex court bench, said it was not “in dispute that the Appellant did not study MBA in Mysore University” and the plea that it was a “clerical error” cannot be accepted. “The contention of the Appellant that the declaration relating to his educational qualification in the affidavit is a clerical error cannot be accepted. It is not an error committed once. Since 2008, the Appellant was making the statement that he has an MBA degree. The information provided by him in the affidavit filed in Form 26 would amount to a false declaration. The said false declaration cannot be said to be a defect which is not substantial…,” the bench said.The bench also dealt in detail the legal question whether it was necessary to “plead and prove that the result was materially affected when the nomination of the returned candidate was found to have been improperly accepted, moreso, when there are only two candidates contesting the election.” “There is no dispute that an election cannot be set aside on the ground of improper acceptance of any nomination without a pleading and proof that the result of the returned candidate was materially affected.”The point to be considered is whether the law as laid down by this Court relating to the pleading and proof of the fact of the result of the returned candidate being materially affected, applies to a case where the nomination of the returned candidate is declared to have been improperly accepted,” it said. The bench said there was a difference between improper acceptance of a nomination of a returned candidate and the improper acceptance of nomination of any other candidate.There is also a difference between cases where there are only two candidates in the fray and a situation where there are more than two candidates contesting the election, it said. “If the nomination of a candidate other than the returned candidate is found to have been improperly accepted, it is essential that the election Petitioner has to plead and prove that the votes polled in favour of such candidate would have been polled in his favour.”On the other hand, if the improper acceptance of nomination is of the returned candidate, there is no necessity of proof that the election has been materially affected as the returned candidate would not have been able to contest the election if his nomination was not accepted.”It is not necessary for the Respondent to prove that result of the election in so far as it concerns the returned candidate has been materially affected by the improper acceptance of his nomination as there were only two candidates contesting the election…,” the bench held. Though the mere finding that there has been improper acceptance of the nomination is not sufficient for declaration that the election is void under Section 100 (1) of the Representation of the People Act, “but, there would be no necessity of any proof in the event of the nomination of a returned candidate being declared as having been improperly accepted, especially in a case where there are only two candidates in the fray,” the apex court bench said.If the returned candidate’s nomination is declared to have been improperly accepted, it would mean that he could not have contested the election and that the result of the election of the returned candidate was materially affected need not be proved any further, it said. The bench also allowed the plea of the losing candidate that now he be declared winner as the election of the returned candidate has been declared void. “We are in agreement with the High Court and we do not intend to interfere with the discretion exercised by the High Court,” it said.

Manipur University protests: Centre’s reservation norms will deny tribal students their rights

Manipur University, a central university in Imphal, is in huge turmoil. It was shutdown for quite a few days among protests, mass exodus out of the university by tribal students and an unfortunate arson incident. But this is not “India’s problem”. If this had happened in a central university in Delhi, that would have surely been “India’s problem”.

To Indians, Delhi’s problems are India’s problem while Manipur’s problems are Manipur’s problem, except when people of Manipur say that. When Manipuris say that Manipur’s problems are Manipur’s problems, that act of saying but not the problem itself becomes India’s problem.

To understand the origins of the problem in Manipur University, let me lay out the context and then the timeline of events. Manipur University was founded in 1980 as a state university. This means that the basic infrastructure, land and the most important resources were paid for by the resources of Manipur, by the people of Manipur. During the long period as state university, Manipur University followed the State Reservation Policy of 31 percent for ST and 2 percent for SC for admission into various courses of the university. This was perfectly natural and in keeping with the demographic reality of Manipur. In 2005, the same Manipur University was converted into a “central university”, thus its administration passing from the hand of the state government in Imphal to the Union government in Delhi.

Manipur University. Image Courtesy: University's website

Manipur University. Image Courtesy: University’s website

It is important to understand the political context of creating or declaring a central university anywhere. It is typically a political sop from Delhi to counter the disaffection among the local populace. The more a state is alienated from the “idea of India”, greater are these soft sops to keep them in check. Thus all states in the restive and alienated North East have central universities. The reason of this geographical distribution is for the Union to signal to the state people that Delhi cares.

This care, however, makes sense only if a central university has some special connect with the host state and not just an occupant of a large parcel of land in the host state. Hence, though these are called central universities, it is tacitly understood that such institutions are “of the state” in spite of being a “central” entity. Any aim for equitable distribution of resources only succeeds if the distributed commodity belongs specially to the state. Central universities lie in this grey zone where they technically are Union government funded enclaves in a state but practically belong largely to the host state, as part of political understandings.

The whole problem starts when central universities are considered “all India” institutions, “all India” being a figment that does not exist anywhere on the real ground where these universities exist. Manipur University, after being taken over by the Union government in 2005, implemented the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006. This resulted in a reservation distribution that gave 15 percent for SC, 7.5 percent for ST and 27 percent for OBC, as in prevalent in all Union government offices. The problem with these numbers is that these percentages are completely different from the actually existing demographic reality of Manipur.

Manipur is a state with a high tribal population and a very small SC population and much lower OBC population compared to this “all India” idea. Thus, these new reservation numbers completely sidelines the actual needs of Manipuri society in the context of Manipuri University.

A 2012 amendment to the 2006 CEI Act, provided an out from this problem and in accordance with that, Manipur University declared the reservations as follows — 31 percent for ST, 2 percent for SC and 17 percent for OBC. This was much closer to the demographic reality of the state. However, due to incompetency of the Manipur University authority, the correct procedures of ‘state seats’ declarations not being followed and other issues, this solution was scrapped when on 23 March, 2016, a UGC letter arrived that directed Manipur University to follow the Union government reservation norms, after which the Manipur University academic council reverted back to the unrealistic 15 percent for SC, 7.5 percent for ST and 27 percent for OBC formula. Thus, in one blow, a huge number of tribal students were deprived of their right. And they erupted in protest as a result.

All tribal students have essentially walked out of the university – in a scale that never happened in mainland India even during MK Gandhi’s much eulogised call in 1920 to boycott mainstream educational institutions. In the context of Manipur’s fragile tribal-valley relationship, this has the potential to snowball into an issue much bigger than simply university affairs. If the “all India” reservation numbers stay, that would effectively mean shutting the door of higher education in Manipur University to most tribal students in Manipur and nearby regions, which also have huge tribal populations.

The concept of a “central university” is fundamentally incompatible with the realities of a diverse multi-national, multi-ethnic, federal union like the Indian Union. All central university campuses, including that of Manipur University, looks like a Hindi-Delhi enclave. All over Manipur University, there are huge number of signboards that contain Hindi but no Meithei, the primary language of Manipur. In a recent lecture visit to the university, I saw notices of a student essay competition where submission was possible in Hindi but not in Meithei. The least the Union government can do to benefit central universities is to limit their role to funding it while the academics and administrators run the institutions according to the reality of the land on which they are situated.

It is also not the case that central universities don’t impose local culture and code to students coming from outside. For example, Delhi university, another central university, has made it mandatory for all of its students who have not studied Hindi till Class 8 to pass a paper in Hindi, the imperialistically named Compulsory Test in Hindi (CTH) in order to get their undergraduate degree. Thus states of the North East as well most non-Hindi states where Hindi is not compulsory in school due to its irrelevance in their lives are forced to learn a language alien to them in order to gain a degree in say Botany or Political Science in a programme of study conducted in English.

Students don’t go to these universities in a female unfriendly and especially north-easterner unfriendly city like Delhi to learn Hindi. They go there to study subjects in universities set up specifically in and around Delhi with huge resources, the kind most universities in the subcontinent can only dream of. Thus if Delhi University can act as Delhi’s local university by imposing compulsory Hindi, why can’t central universities in other states govern themselves and set policies autonomously to cater to the needs of the states they are situated in?

Why do students from all over come to Delhi? Because the Union government has chosen to use revenue funds extracted from other states (and non-Hindi states provide a disproportionately higher part of that revenue) and shower it in and around Delhi. It is an artificial construct that is made possible by the immense centralising powers that the Union government has grabbed for itself. This was hardly the original vision of the constitution where education was solely in the state list and Union government was to have no role in it. The way for unbridled entry of the Union government was made possible by a constitutional amendment that placed education in the concurrent list. This happened during the Emergency regime of Indira Gandhi, the darkest days of Indian Union’s democracy.

The idea of a central university or for that matter, a central board like CBSE, is to create a homogeneous elite that is deracinated and alienated from their homeland’s realities, and only identifies with the vague idea of something “national”. Hindification and saffronisation are important parts of that process. And this is sold under the name of fostering unity. By all measures, this is an evil design. The time has come to hand over affairs of education, both school education (like CBSE) and university education (like central universities) to the respective states and Union Territories on which they are situated. The Indian Union cannot continue to suffer from an autocratic decision taken during the darkest period of its political democracy.

Manipur CM Okram Ibobi fired at by NSCN (IM) militants, escapes unhurt

Imphal: Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh escaped unhurt when suspected militants opened gunfire as he was getting out of his helicopter at the Ukhrul helipad, CID officials said on Monday. The attack comes days after Ibobi claimed that the law and order situation in Manipur has improved dramatically.

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.

The chief minister’s helicopter immediately took off and left for Chingai but could not land at the remote village due to protests, the official said. Ibobi then cancelled his programme and flew back to the state capital where he called an emergency cabinet meeting, the source said.

Ibobi had several programmes lined up at Hunphung village and at Chingai village in Ukhrul district. Ibobi was to travel to Hunphung to inaugurate the 100 bedded Ukhrul district hospital besides a power sub-station, the sources said.

Civil Society organisations had called a curfew and put up a road blockade along the three km route to Hunphung from the helipad, the sources said, adding that two vehicles had also been set ablaze by the protesters.

Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh. Reuters

Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh. Reuters

Earlier, 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. Tension prevailed in the area, the official said.

In an interview with IANS, Ibobi had earlier said, “In the past, shops and kiosks pulled down shutters by nightfall and people stayed at home. Today people can be seen (on the streets) till late in the night and shopkeepers do brisk business.” With assembly elections not far away, the Congress leader said people in the state no longer lived in fear of the various militant groups, big and small.

Militants used to sneak into Manipur from neighbouring Myanmar to commit crime and escape, he said.

“We have beefed up security at the border towns with the result that militants cannot make their presence felt now,” the chief minister said in an interview. More than 30 insurgent outfits used to operate in the urban areas of Manipur. Police claim a significant fall in insurgency-related violence. But stray bomb attacks continue.

“The people who are fed up with the senseless violence of the insurgents provide vital information about them (to the authorities),” said the chief minister. According to Ibobi, the insurgents cannot find easy shelter even in the hills as almost all the tribal underground outfits have come overground after signing the Suspension of Operations (SoO) pact.

He however admitted that there were complaints against the activities of some of these groups. Ibobi said: “We are in touch with the central security forces to enforce the ground rules. “We have been drawing the attention of the Centre to the presence of the signatories to ceasefire in Manipur who should be confined to Nagaland only.”

The NSCN-K has abrogated the ceasefire pact and resumed attacks against security forces. Ibobi disclosed that several cadres of the two Nagaland-based outfits had fanned out to other states in the northeast although they should be, legally, confined to Nagaland. Despite threats to veto the state government order, Ibobi had on August 12, 2004, lifted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, from seven assembly segments in Manipur.

“In the long run it has helped improve the law and order in the state,” the Congress leader said. “There is no immediate plan to lift the Afspa from other segments since we fear that in view of objections from the Defence Ministry, the government move may be vetoed,” he added.

Ibobi complained that the state government had got no cooperation from the Centre on Afspa, which gives sweeping powers to security forces. And despite numerous allegations of rights abuses, security personnel were not prosecuted as prior approval of the Centre was a must and no such approval was given, he said.

With inputs from PTI and IANS

Manipur CM Okram Ibobi escapes ambush by suspected NSCN militants

Mon, 24 Oct 2016-01:40pm , Ukhrul , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Manipur CM Okram Ibobi was ambushed by suspected NSCN militants in Ukhrul on Monday. He escaped unhurt amidst firing by the militants at Ukhrul helipad. He has now flown out of Manipur to Imphal.A series of bomb blast had taken place late last night. Last night, two persons suspected to be NSCN (IM) hurled two hand grenades in Hundung area, injuring one jawan.There was tight security in Ukhrul ahead of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh’s visit to the district headquarter for inauguration of developmental projects. The 04 Indian Reserve Batalian (IRB) jawans were deployed there a week ahead of the Chief Minister’s visit.

2 jawans injured after IED explosion in Manipur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two jawans from the India Reserve Battalion (IRB) have been injured after an IED explosion took place on Sunday in Hundung area in south of Ukhrul district in Manipur, reports IBtimes.National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) are suspected to be behind the attack.CM Okram Ibobi Singh will visit Ukhrul on Monday for the launch of some developmental projects.

UP, Punjab and three other states likely to go to polls in February- March next year

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Uttar Pradesh, which is set to witness game-changer elections, and four other states will go to polls simultaneously, most likely in February-March next, commencing shortly after the presentation of the Union Budget on February one.While it will be a single-day polling in Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur, Uttar Pradesh is likely to have as many as seven phases, sources in the Election Commission said.The BJP, which had swept the Lok Sabha elections more than two years ago, winning 70 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, is seeking to make a comeback by wresting power after 15 years from the ruling SP. The BSP is expected to give a stiff challenge to both of them. In Punjab, after two successive terms, the ruling SAD-BJP combine is facing a tough battle from Congress on the one hand and a fledgeling AAP on the other. Uttarakhand, where the ruling Congress staged a sensational comeback this year following a legal battle, is fighting anti-incumbency and facing challenge from the BJP.Goa, where the ruling BJP is seeking a fresh term, is pitted against Congress and AAP. In Manipur, the Congress is seeking to retain power. As a matter of abundant precaution, the government approached the Commission for clearing its proposal to present the Union Budget in Lok Sabha on February one and avoid criticism of violating the model code of conduct that will come into force the day elections are announced.Sources said that the Commission had no objection to the budget exercise being carried on because of the fact that it would cover the entire country and was not specific to the poll-bound states.It has also been conveyed to the government that caution should be exercised so that overtly populist measures are not included in the budget aimed at voters in these states. The Commission is working on a schedule for the polls which should be completed by the middle of March so that new assemblies in these states could be constituted well in time before the expiry of their tenure.It is working out the requirements about security forces with the Centre and the states concerned for ensuring that the polls are free and fair.Nearly a lakh of state police and central armed police force personnel may be deployed to ensure that the electoral exercise is smooth and free from violence and malpractices like booth capturing. Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had recently said, “We are trying to assess the requirement of security forces, climate and exam schedule — all these inputs are being taken into consideration. Only then we will be able to say whether they will be staggered or multi-phase.” While the term of the Uttar Pradesh assembly ends on May 27, 2017, those of Goa, Manipur and Punjab end on March 18.The Uttarakhand Assembly’s term ends on March 27.

Judicial, police custody deaths highest in UP; Chattisgarh leads in encounter cases: NHRC

New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh has registered highest number of cases of custodial deaths in the country between October 2015 and September this year, with as many as 401 deaths taking place in judicial custody and 27 in policy custody, the National Human Rights Commission today said.

Uttar-Pradesh-police_380_AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Uttar Pradesh, with 401 cases topped the list of cases of judicial custody deaths as well as in the list of cases of deaths in police custody with 27 cases,” NHRC Chairperson Justice HL Dattu was quoted as saying in a statement.

Earlier, addressing a press conference to mark the foundation day of the rights watchdog, he said since its inception in 1993, the NHRC has come a long way by addressing several issues of human rights violations as well as giving inputs on key legislations impacting human rights.

The NHRC had faced criticism from a section of civil society and NGOs for it report on the on-spot inquiry of migration issue in Kairana in Uttar Pradesh which is going to polls next year.

Dattu said, the commission “has received the response of the Uttar Pradesh government on the Kairana issue, and the report would be placed before the full commission, which would discuss, deliberate and take the final decision in it”.

“Over a lakh complaints have been received in the commission which indicates not only the increasing faith of the people in its functioning but also their awareness about the importance of promotion and protection of human rights,” the statement said.

“During the period (October 2015 and September 2016), maximum 32,498 complaints were registered against police, out of which 206 cases were of encounter.

“Chhattisgarh with 66 encounter cases, topped the list followed by 43 in Assam, 15 in Jharkhand, 10 in Odisha, 7 each in Maharashtra and Meghalaya, 5 each in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur. West Bengal with 11 cases, topped the list of registered cases of encounter by Para-Military forces,” it said.

Between October 2015 and September 2016, the NHRC has registered 1,05,664 cases on the basis of complaints, intimation from police and prison authorities etc, and on suo motu basis. The number of cases registered during the period on suo motu basis is 133. During the corresponding period in 2014-15 and 2013-14, it registered 1,17,477 and 1,06,684 cases respectively, it said.

“Since October 2015 to September 2016, the commission has disposed 1,11,295 cases out of which 59,924 had to be dismissed in limine, as these were not in line with the provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act,” it added.

During the period, the commission recommended monetary relief to the tune of Rs 70,93,000 in 380 cases. The public authorities complying with the commission’s recommendations paid Rs 11,59,56,172 as monetary relief in 410 cases to the victims or their kin. These included cases of the previous year as well as the some cases wherein recommendations were made during 2015-2016.

An independent report was prepared and sent to the UN mandated Human Rights Council for the third Universal Periodic Review, the NHRC said.

Is China launching a proxy war? Leaked IB report on North East India raises new questions

Is China launching a proxy war against India like Pakistan? This is a new question that has arisen after a leaked IB report stated that militant group United Liberation Front Of Assam (Ulfa) commander-in-chief, Paresh Barua, who is based in China, is planning to attack security forces along the north eastern border of India.

Ulfa militants in a file photo. PTI

Ulfa militants in a file photo. PTI

The report published in Asomiya Pratidin, the largest circulated regional daily in the North East, says that the United National Liberation Front of West South East Asia, a conglomerate of militant organisations, has informed the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI that it is going to attack Indian security forces from six points along the border.

The report also states that Ulfa is facing financial crunch, and is planning to kidnap two BJP MLAs, two IPS officers and four businessmen in Assam to meet its requirements.

It said that Ulfa has set a target of Rs 50 crores to be made via kidnappings and extortions.

All of this has raised questions on whether or not China is backing subversive attacks by terrorist groups in the north eastern frontier similar to what Pakistan has been doing in Kashmir.

As per the report Ulfa and Nationalist Socialist Council Of Nagaland — Khaplang (NSCN-K) may attack the Indian security forces along the Indo-Sino border in Arunachal Pradesh, whereas Ulfa, People’s Liberation Army of Manipur (PLAM) and NSCN-K may carry subversive attacks along the India-Myanmar border in Manipur. The Ulfa, Garo National Liberation Army of Meghalaya (GNLAM) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland — S (NDFB-S) may attack the Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya while Ulfa, NDFB(S) and Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) may attack security forces deployed in the Indo-Bangla and Indo-Bhutan border in Assam. The All Tripura Tiger Force and PLA may attack along the Indo-Bangla border in Tripura.

India’s relationship with China has not been very different from that with Pakistan. And there have been allegations that the Communist country has been supporting terrorism in the North East for a long time.

GM Srivastava, an expert on terrorism in North East, told Firstpost that Paresh Barua, commander in chief, Ulfa received his arms training in China in the mid ’80s. Barua, who was earlier based in Bangladesh, now moves between Yunnan Province of China and the thick forests of Myanmar. Indian agencies suspect that terrorist camps based in the forests in Kachin, Myanmar, get support from China especially since the Myanmar government has hardly any control over this region. On the other hand, Chinese agencies share a cosy relationship with Kachin based terrorist groups.

Last year nine terrorist groups in the North East formed a platform named United National Liberation Front of West South East Asia, and it is alleged that Chinese agencies had a role to play in the formation of the group.

India has a century old border dispute with China, like it has with Pakistan. China has been claiming that India has occupied 90,000 square kilometers of its territory, and sees Arunachal Pradesh as a part of South Tibet.

The Indo-Sino border dispute has been a concern for both the sides since 1914 when the Radcliffe line was drawn to define the frontiers.

China had border disputes with 20 other countries and most of them have been resolved through dialogues even though China ended up losing more than 50% of its claimed territory, but repeated talks between India and China have yielded no results.

The year 1962 saw the Indo-Sino war where Chinese troops entered the Indian territory as deep as Tezpur in Assam. However, experts say that similar incursions are less likely to take place in the near future given the fact that both countries are ridden with internal security issues.

And given China’s compulsion to refrain from war imposed by Tibetan separatists, it is not unlikely to indulge in a shadow war with India as a strategic pressure tactic, and that too at a time when the Kashmir issue has placed both the nations in opposite poles.

While sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs admit that such IB report exists, sources in Border Security Force say that it has not received any input about possible subversive attacks by militant groups.

Manipur polls 2017: Cheaper rice, easy availability of LPG will be game-changer, says Javadekar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Easy availability of cooking gas cylinders and cheaper rice due to the efforts of the Narendra Modi government will be a “game-changer” in Manipur assembly polls, Union minister Prakash Javadekar, who is BJP’s in-charge for the state elections, said on Wednesday. He also asserted that anti-incumbency sentiment against the 15-year-old rule of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh of Congress was strong and his government will meet the same fate as that of former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who was voted out of power after a continuous reign of 15 years.BJP is making a concerted bid for power in the northeastern state where it has never run government. However, BJP’s victory in the assembly polls in neighbouring Assam has boosted the party’s morale.”Cooking gas cylinder was earlier difficult to get (for the common man) and available in black market. Not it is easily available. People are also happy with the central government due to availability of rice of Rs 3 against Rs 5.60 earlier under the PDS. It will be a game-changer,” he told reporters.Cheaper rice is available for tribals, who are in large numbers in the state. “We are sure to win because of BJP’s rising credibility as people have benefited from the Modi government’s programmes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity has only risen. Able leaders from different walks of lives are joining the party,” he said.The central government has given focus to the northeastern region and people appreciate it, he said and also cited programmes like Mudra and Jan Dhan scheme which have benefitted them.

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 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: Life crippled in Imphal as rebels observe Black Day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Life in Manipur capital Imphal came to a partial halt as CorCom – the conglomerate of various rebel groups, observed a National Black Day with an 18-hour-long general strike that began at midnight on October 15.The Maoist Communist Party Manipur also observed a Black Day, boycotting all celebrations or events related to the merger of Manipur with the Indian Union.Inter-district passenger bus services and passenger-driven vehicles stayed off the roads, but diesel autos, Tata Magic and other private vehicles plied on different routes.Almost all business establishments remained closed. Except for few vendors, almost all major shops, private banks, offices and nationalist banks did not operate.In a press statement CorCom media coordinator Ksh Yoiheiba had stated that Manipur was forcibly merged into the Indian Union on October 15, 1949, and this was an incident that remains unforgettable to all people of Manipur. “Since the alleged forced merger, Manipuri people have been living a wretched life under an alleged colonial yoke. October 15 is one day on which all the people need to stand united against Indian rule,” he said in his statement.Yoiheiba further stated that the Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 was fully drafted by July 26, 1947 ahead of the departure of British colonial rulers from Manipur.After the first democratic election was held in June 1948, a Council of Ministers was sworn in on October 18, 1948 at the Darbar Hall of Kangla. These events marked the establishment of a democratic Government in Manipur.However, the Government of India kept the king of Manipur under house arrest at Shillong and forced him to sign the Manipur Merger Agreement on September 21, 1949. Manipur was annexed into the Indian Union on October 15, 1949, Ksh Yoiheiba of CorCom alleged.

Need life imprisonment for acid attacks: Najma Heptulla to Maneka Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A strict law for acid attacks carrying a punishment of life imprisonment needs to be drafted, Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla said in an appeal to Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. Heptulla cited the example of Bangladesh, which has a punishment of 25 years in jail for acid attacks, while emphasising on the need for severe punishment in cases of acid attacks.”Bangladesh has a punishment of 25 years in jail. We should also have it too. Why 25, it should be 50 or even life imprisonment. I appeal to Maneka Gandhi to demand in Parliament that there should be life imprisonment not only in cases of acid attacks that are fatal but also in cases where it leads to deformities as those victims die a death every minute,” Heptulla told Gandhi.Both Gandhi and Heptulla were attending the book launch of “Acid Wali Ladki” authored by Pratibha Jyoti. Gandhi, who had spoken before Heptulla at the event, said she desires a “death penalty for acid attackers”. She said, “I have a feeling of outrage and I would like to help in whichever way I can.”The author of the book, Pratibha Jyoti, while giving her opening address spoke about the need to curb acts of violence against both women and children. “This book isn’t just about acid but about acts of violence against women and children,” she said.Plastic surgeon Dr Ashok Gupta, who has dealt with acid attack cases throughout his career, proposed including acid attack victims in the below-poverty-line category to provide them easy access to medical treatment across hospitals.

Irom Sharmila wants to meet PM Modi and seek advice ‘good advice’ from him

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, rights activist Irom Sharmila now wants to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi expecting “good advice” from him. She had met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on September 26 seeking his advice on how to defeat “major political parties” in her state Manipur.”Good advice should always be expected. Whether a person is an enemy or a friend, if he has some good views and wants to share it with me, I will take the advice,” she told PTI. She was asked if she would also meet Modi to seek his advice as he was elected with a huge mandate in the general elections.Sharmila on Friday had addressed Delhi University students at a function organised by the North East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS) to commemorate the 120th birth anniversary of Hijam Irabot, a freedom fighter and social activist from Manipur. Sharmila, who had in the past, expressed her desire to meet Modi to seek his help in the repeal of the contentious Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), reiterated her demand saying, “It is possible, I will meet because he is the authority concerned who can fulfill my demand.” The 44-year-old “Iron Lady” had an advice for students as she asked them to stop blaming the society and rather be the change they wish to see.”Youths, which are the strength of society are the symbol of unity and inspiration. You remain protesting and blaming the society. Instead, you are responsible to help or unite to bring the change you wish to see in the society,” she said.On August 9, Sharmila broke her 16-year-old hunger strike demanding repeal of the AFSPA and announced that she would take her battle to the next level by floating her party as she wants to become the chief minister of Manipur to “press” for the demands.

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.

Protesting Manipuri students claim brutality by Delhi cops

Hashokim Kamkara’s searing memory of the events of Tuesday night is being surrounded by six or seven policemen, and being kicked and punched on all sides. Yet, his humour hasn’t left him.Sitting at the Nagaland House after being released from the Chanakya Puri police station, Hashokim remembers the swear words raining along with the blows. “This constable kept on punching me. He said, ‘Neta banne ka bada shaukh hai tumhe’. I crawled on my feet and begged the ASI to help me, he simply ambled away to let the constables beat me up further,” says Hashokim.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Manipuri Tribals Forum Delhi along with several other tribal groups had gathered outside the Manipur House to register a protest against CM Okram Ibobi Singh and his delegate who were in Delhi to meet home minister Rajnath Singh to expedite the three anti-immigrants state bills for the Inner Line Permits. The students demanded that the CM and the counsellors come out. The broke one of the gates, and were first attacked by Manipur Rifles officers, and then by CRPF. In the ensuing fight, over 50 protestors and several policemen were injured. The police rounded several protestors and took them to the Chanakya Puri police station. Those who were injured were taken to Dyal Singh Hospital, or RML, or Safdarjung. “After the initial medical treatment, most of the protestors were taken into custody. They were released an hour ago,” says Th Vipuni, former president of the Poumei Students Union, Delhi. He was lucky to have escaped in time.MFTD convenor Mavio wasn’t that lucky. He was one of the first few to have broken into the compound. “Stones were thrown at us the moment we got in, and we were soon roughed up by several policemen. The protestors, too, retaliated using bottles first, and then stones. Many ran to the Dhaula Kuan metro station,” says Mavio. “I saw many girls being hit, too. There are reports that some girls were molested, too.” Prominent BJP leader from Nagaland Linda Newmai, who spoke to Kiren Rijiju to help release the protestors from the jail, says such atrocities must be condemned.

Army goes on hot pursuit of insurgents on Indo-Myanmar border; sources say surgical strike planned at highest level

The Indian Army is on a hot pursuit of the Manipuri insurgents after the latter killed six Assam Rifles personnel, including a junior commissioned officer (JCO) by carrying out an ambush on May 22 near Hengshi village in Chandel district of Manipur.Reliable Army sources told dna that a surgical strike, planned and coordinated at the highest level, has been carried out, leading to killing of insurgents and destruction of insurgent camps along the porous Indo-Myanmar border.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The entire operation is yet not over and being monitored by the general officer commanding (GoC) of Dimapur-based 3 Corps.”Army has gone after the rebels heavily,” a senior official said.Army has been rattled by the latest deadly attack, similar to the one in June last year in which 18 soldiers of 6 Dogra Regiment were killed in an ambush. Days later, the Indian Army had, in a cross-border operation neutralised 20-25 insurgents.A senior official termed the ongoing retaliatory action by Army “a massive trace-and-hunt operation to avenge the killing” but stayed short of admitting if it was again a cross-border strike.Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, accompanied by Kolkata-based Eastern Army Commander Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi visited the 29 Assam Rifles battalion and the insurgent attack site in South Manipur on May 25. Suhag was briefed “on the incident, including the combing operations in progress and the measures undertaken to neutralise the insurgent group involved in the attack”, by the Inspector General Assam Rifles (South) Major General VS Sreenivas and the commanding officer of the 29 battalion, the soldiers of which were killed on May 22 attack.Army said that the chief stressed “on the need to further carry out relentless operations against the insurgents active in the region”.Corcom, a group of six banned organisations – Kangleipak Communist Party, Kanglei Yawol Kunna Lup, People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak, People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Progressive), Revolutionary People’s Front, United National Liberation Front and United Peoples Party of Kangleipak – has claimed responsibility for the latest ambush.

Trade along border of Tibetan Autonomous Region of China increased by 312.64%: Govt

Till around a year ago, at 4,545 meters in freezing temperatures at Nathu La, trucks moved from both sides of the border and porters transferred goods under the watchful eyes of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).Last year, the government stepped in to make the border trade less grueling by using the facility near the borders. The trade, through Nathu La, along the border of the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China and Sikkim in India, has increased by 312.64%, according to Commerce Ministry sources. The pass in the Himalayas, falling on the ancient silk road, was reopened in 2006 after it was closed for over 40 years.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Such efforts of encouraging trade through border haats, located at the zero line mostly falling along borders of northeastern states with Bangladesh, China and Myanmar, seem to have paid off recording increase in trade figures. The BJP is hoping to cash in on the issue as part of its plans to make inroads into the northeastern states, where it feels it is on the upward trail. Besides Assam, which the party has wrested from Congress, it is setting its eyes on five states– Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Sikkim. Several of these states, particularly Nagaland and Mizoram, have significant Christian population.A senior BJP leader said the Congress-led UPA had not even tried to cash in on the low hanging fruit like border haats in the region, which has been crying for development.At the land customs station (LCS) at Moreh in Manipur and Zokhawtar in Mizoram along Myanmar border, the export-import figures have risen from Rs 3.11 crore in 2011-12 to Rs 147.95 crore in 2014-15, according to official figures.According to government sources, chief minister Manik Sarkar wanted more border haats as he felt it helped in containing insurgency.The first border haat along the Tripura-Bangladesh border was opened in Srinagar last year, after which four others were planned. The total trade in Srinagar was Rs 84 lakh in 2014-15 and it rose to Rs 4.21 crore in 2015-16, according to ministry figures. At the Kamalasagar haat, inaugurated by Prime Ministers of both countries in June last year, the total trade has been Rs 3.52 crore, of which Rs 2.96 crore is by the Indian side.However, Tripura, where CPM leader Manik Sarkar has been in power since 1998, and Meghalaya, which has a majority of Khasi population, are not on the BJP’s radar yet. Both share border with Bangladesh.The main commodities from India are local handicrafts, fruits cosmetics, steel utensils, cloth material while from the Bangladesh side the items are mostly dry fish, bakery items, plastic goods and local vegetables. The Indian and Bangladeshi governments have agreed to establish two more border haats in Tripura and four more in Meghalaya.At Nathu La, the imports are mostly of colourful Chinese blankets and quilts, RMG, carpet, shoes, China clay, Yak tail and local herbal Medicine while the exports range from vegetable oil, handloom products, tobacco, utensils, incense sticks, tea and snuff.”With many more Border Haats proposed along the India-Bangladesh border, there is hope and promise for people living in the remote border locations and particularly in the North East region of India which is a land-locked territory with low indices of human and economic development,” according to CUTS International, an NGO pursuing social justice and economic equity within and outside borders.It said the initiation of Border Haats along the India-Bangladesh border has also shown a lot of promise towards economic development of border communities, formalising informal trade, building trust and higher trade openness.AT A GLANCE​The first border haat along the Tripura-Bangladesh border was opened in Srinagar last year, after which four others were planned. The total trade in Srinagar was Rs 84 lakh in 2014-15 and it rose to Rs 4.21 crore in 2015-16, according to ministry figures. At the Kamalasagar haat, inaugurated by Prime Ministers of both countries in June last year, the total trade has been Rs 3.52 crore, of which Rs 2.96 crore is by the Indian side. The main commodities from India are local handicrafts, fruits cosmetics, steel utensils, cloth material while from the Bangladesh side the items are mostly dry fish, bakery items, plastic goods and local vegetables. The Indian and Bangladeshi governments have agreed to establish two more border haats in Tripura and four more in Meghalaya.

Militants kill Assam Rifles personnel: Rajnath Singh orders ‘strongest possible’ action

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday directed security forces to take “strongest possible action” against militants involved in killing six Assam Rifles personnel in Manipur.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTIUnion Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Singh reviewed the situation with Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and other top officials in the security establishment following the killing of a Junior Commissioned Officer and five jawans of Assam Rifles in an ambush in Manipur’s Chandel district close to Indo-Myanmar border,
official sources said.

The home minister also spoke to Assam Rifles Director General, who apprised him of the situation and action taken so far.

Singh expressed sadness over the incident.

An Assam Rifles convoy was attacked by heavily armed militants around 1 pm in Joupi Hengshi area of Chandel when the security personnel were returning after inspecting a landslide site in the interior tribal district, defence and police sources said.

It is suspected that two or more militant groups jointly carried out the attack.

Reinforcements have been rushed to the scene of the ambush and a massive combing operation is under way.

Last year, 18 army personnel were killed in the same district in an ambush by NSCN(K) militants.

For Jisha, Jyoti or just any other woman: Public or private, no space feels safe

Life for the Indian woman is difficult; as far as adjectives go, it’s challenging, an uphill task, a never-ending test of physical and mental strength. This is not to say that women elsewhere have it easy or that they live a life devoid of adversities; but Google searches for ‘women in India’ and ‘women in the world’ yield completely different results.

Male-dominated societyMale-dominated society Women-harassmentWomen-harassment

Going by the news cycle, stories about molestation, rape and sexual assault are plenty. We’ve apparently not left the Middle Ages behind, because women who don’t subscribe to the norm are still being burnt at the proverbial stake. Then, there is also the case where women are banned from entering places of worship.

These frayed ends are tied together by one knot — patriarchy. Like the lotus that sprouted upon the navel of Lord Vishnu, from whom emerged Lord Brahma, and thus the origin of creation, the oppression of women has sprung from rigid, wholly ridiculous beliefs that women should firmly toe the line (sometimes clearly visible as in the case of Sita in Ramayana) drawn by a few men. Socialisation informs women that norms are the truth.

On 23 April, a Manipuri woman, who was standing outside her PG residence, was abducted by an unidentified person, who allegedly tried to molest her. Even as no passerbys came to her rescue, this shocking incident was caught on CCTV. Naturally, the owners of the PG advised the girl against filing a complaint, fearing her safety. “I think they did that fearing bad name for their PG,” she said instead.

Does this mean that public spaces are harmful to women? We constantly talk about how these spaces are inaccessible: how alleys in the night are seldom lit, how parks, playgrounds, bus stands and railway stations after 10 pm are cesspools of crime. Therefore, we’re given unfair curfews, we’re asked to constantly keep our loved ones informed on our whereabouts, we’re asked to not step out of the house after 8 pm. We still have blatantly sexist rules when it comes to women in hostels: boys are not allowed, the curfew sometimes is as early as 5 pm and we’re allowed out perhaps once a month. Our Ministers make it mandatory for all phones to come equipped with a ‘panic button’ to ‘improve’ our safety. As a result, reported the NDTV, we’re thankful to the Prime Minister for letting the police trail us, even as it may violate our privacy. Because as a woman in India, we all know, there is no such thing as privacy. Or private space.

On 28 April, a 29-year-old Dalit student, Jisha, from Ernakulam in Kerala — a state known for its favourable sex ratio towards women — was brutally raped, stabbed and kicked in the stomach and murdered. Her mutilated body was found inside her home. The nature of horrific crime is unsettlingly similar to the one that happened in Delhi in 2012, where a woman was raped inside a moving bus. The News Minute reports that the mother of the woman cannot recall a day sans harassment by the neighbours: She says that they destroyed the water pipes in their home, forcing them to draw water from a canal next to the house.

Artists in Kannur paint posters at a protest demanding justice for Jisha. PTI.Artists in Kannur paint posters at a protest demanding justice for Jisha. PTI.

Artists in Kannur paint posters at a protest demanding justice for Jisha. PTI.

This happened in the confines of Jisha’s home, the private space that she shared with her mother.

Further north, in Handwara, in Kashmir, it has been alleged that a minor was molested by an Indian army jawan near a bunker. The army has denied the charge. This brings to mind the alleged rape-death of 32-year-old Thangjam Manorama by some members Assam Rifles personnel. Frontline, in January 2015, reported that Manipur was ‘up in arms’ supporting Irom Sharmila’s demand for the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, from Manipur and rudely woken by a nude protest by dozen women asking the Indian Army to rape them.

Walls and pillars do not make for safety; they make for limitations, they make for prisons, outposts and hostility. Contrary to popular belief, staying at home does not empower us, or our safety. It’s 2016, and marital rape — that often occurs in the four walls of home — in India isn’t criminalised, because marriage is sacrosanct? We still have to fight for our right to sexual autonomy, which is and (has been) being controlled by men.

On 5 May, there was perhaps a glimmer of hope for the Indian woman: Four-and-a-half years after the murder of Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes, a Mumbai court held all four accused in the case guilty, and sentenced them to life imprisonment until death. What had happened was this — Keenan and Reuben, in October 2011, had visited a restaurant in Amboli with their friends. Outside, a group of drunk men started harassing the girls with the duo. Keenan and Reuben jumped to their defence, to which they were stabbed repeatedly. Keenan died on the same day, while Reuben succumbed to his injuries 10 days later.

These four incidents are not stray ones. In fact, the rate of rape in India accounts for 6.1 percent (2014) and the total crimes against women stands at a startling 91 percent (2014), according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Globally, in terms of gender equality, India stands below Chad and Yemen, with states such as Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh having the worst records on female empowerment, ranging from 0.42 to 0.46

Four years ago, on a bright summer evening in seemingly safe Chennai, a friend and I were driving from Anna Salai to Nungambakkam. Next to us, on a bike came two burly men making smutty comments. We ignored and rode ahead. Only to see the driver make a sharp U-turn and literally come for us with his arms stretched out. My friend — to borrow lyrics from a Christopher Cross song — rode like the wind and stopped next to the Egmore police station where we informed some cops about what happened to us. They agreed to be on the lookout for the men and the two of us had a ‘safe’ ride home afterwards. This shook us, because we believed we were fearless, come what may. But it only reminded us that the right to public space was a little less for us and a little more for men.

Representational image. Getty imagesRepresentational image. Getty images

Public spaces need to be made accessible for women. Getty Images

Where does patriarchy fit in the scheme of things? I suppose, to be a man in India is to be an expert on all things women. It’s to tell us to dress appropriately, to walk with our heads bowed down or to close our legs firmly, to speak up when asked to speak up and to shut up when asked to. It’s to catcall us when you feel like it, grope us when you’re bored and torture us to assert your fleeting masculinity. It’s to tell us to marry at the right time and to the right boy (read caste, religion, status), to have children, to not have abortions and to remain in the kitchen.

How does this change? By respecting us, giving us equal access to spaces — public and private, not victim shaming and blaming, reminding men and women that a woman’s worth isn’t tied to her virginity, hemlines or necklines; making sure roads, railway stations and bus stops are brightly lit and by replicating effective policies that are in place around the world. This is where we could start.

Repeal AFSPA in North East: BJD, Cong members’ demand in LS

New Delhi: A demand was made in the Lok Sabha today for repeal of the “draconian” Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the North-East, with a few members saying it was the biggest deterrent in integrating the youth of the region with India.

Participating in a discussion on the Demands for Grants of the Ministry of North East Development, members in the
House made a case for bringing in change of strategy and political will for progress of North Eastern region.

“For 50 years we have clamped AFSPA on the region. Armed forces have killed 50,000 plus civilians in North-East. AFSPA has been the biggest deterrent of integrating NE youth with India… Remove AFSPA without any conditionality,” said BJD member Tathagata Satpathy.

Tathagata Satpathy. Courtesy Lok Sabha.Tathagata Satpathy. Courtesy Lok Sabha.

Tathagata Satpathy. Courtesy Lok Sabha.

Thokchom Meinya (Cong) demanded immediate repeal of AFSPA from Manipur, saying the Act has been “draconian and black law”. He said many agencies have said AFSPA should be repealed and the Centre should immediately repeal it.

Satpathy said the government at the Centre will have to change its strategy to integrate the North Eastern people with Indian culture. “It is a change in political will that is needed. It is not the BSF and armed forces who are at fault; it is politicians who are at fault,” he said.

Flaying the attitude of successive Central governments towards North East, Satpathy said till 2008, Governors of the states in the region were retired armed forces personnel.

He demanded a Padma award for Irom Sharmila, who is fighting for the repeal of AFSPA in Manipur.

“Irom Sharmila deserves to be given Padma award for her perseverance. I admire her personally. The kind of awardees we saw this year, she deserves to be given Padma award,” Satpathy said.

He said the attitude of successive governments towards North East has been “convoluted or perverted. If Britishers had not come to India, then perhaps North East would have been put off to China”.

Violence erupts in Manipur after protesters demand release of man accused of lynching Muslims

Imphal: A large number of women protested on Friday in front of a police station in Imphal West district, demanding the release of a man who was detained in connection with the lynching of two Muslim youths on April 7.

The lynching had led to violent clashes on Monday between Muslim and non-Muslim communities in the district, resulting in 60 people, including three police commandos, getting injured.

Manipur Police. Representational image. PTI

Manipur Police. Representational image. PTI

A Curfew has been imposed in the district since then.

The women protesters on Friday said there was no reason for the police to detain K. Ibungo, the owner of a two-wheeler that Muslim youths were accused of stealing before they were assaulted by the locals.

“It is not known why Ibungo was detained in the police station. He is the owner and victim. We demand unconditional release of him,” a woman demonstrator said.

The Muslim agitators who are planning a complete shut down of Manipur from Friday evening maintain that the victims of April 7 incident were students and there is no proof that they had stolen the two-wheeler.

They said Chief Minister Okram Ibobi has failed to tackle the situation in time.

The communally sensitive situation was worsened by more violent incidents on Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday night, three motorbike-borne men fired at some women vigilantes, injuring 14 persons, including children, in Imphal West district.

On Tuesday, three Muslim youths assaulted one rice trader and his two woman associates and looted their vehicle, rice, cash, mobile handsets, gold ornaments. Anjuman, an NGO of the Muslim elders, subsequently announced that the offending youths had “surrendered” to them.

The Imphal West district is now under heavy security with additional police and paramilitary personnel being rushed in.

A spokeswoman of the Kanglei Ima Lup, a socio-political organisation, appealed for peace and harmony.

The organisation also staged a sit-in protest in Imphal, protesting against Monday’s firing on women vigilantes.

On April 7, residents of a locality in Imphal West district thrashed three Muslim young men on the charge of stealing a two-wheeler.

While two were killed, the third youth continues to battle for his life in a hospital.

Natural time-bomb: Alarming frequency of earthquakes in South Asia should worry us

13 April: Earthquake of magnitude 6.9 strikes Myanmar, tremors felt in east India

10 April: Six people killed in Pakistan after 6.6-magnitude earthquake hits Kabul, tremors felt in India

8 April: Mild tremor of magnitude 4.2 hits Nepal

22 February: Moderate earthquake of magnitude 5.5 hits Nepal

20 January: 6.1-magnitude earthquake strikes China

4 January: 6.7-magnitude earthquake hits Manipur in India, 11 people killed

When headlines like these become a bit too common, you know that they point to something bigger.

It has been three and a half months since 2016 began. And since that time, we have seen six major earthquakes in South Asia. That means on an average, there were two earthquakes in South Asia every month.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

It is safe to say that the number of earthquakes in or affecting South Asia have risen to an alarming frequency, even before the beginning of this year.

And apart from the fact that the effect of these earthquakes are devastating, the regularity of these tremors have created fears that South Asia could witness a situation like the one after the 2015 Nepal earthquake, which resulted in the death of over 8,000 people.

But something even more worrying than the fact that the frequency of earthquakes has increased is the fact that researchers and scientists have predicted that an earthquake even more destructive than the 2015 Nepal earthquake may hit South Asia in the Himalayan region.

After the Manipur earthquake in January, the disaster management experts in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had warned that an earthquake of magnitude 8.2 or even greater could hit the already ruptured Himalayan region. The 2015 Nepal earthquake was of magnitude 7.9.

According to this report in The Times of India, a series of earthquakes since the 2011 Sikkim earthquake re-ruptured the Himalayan region which had already developed cracks due to previous earthquakes.

“The current conditions might trigger at least four earthquakes greater than 8.0 in magnitude. And if they delay, the strain accumulated during the centuries provokes more catastrophic mega earthquakes,” the report quoted Roger Bilham, seismologist of University of Colorado, as saying.

The report had also said that over half of the Indian landmass was prone to earthquakes.

Experts at the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) had further said in the report that stress in the mountains of the north-east had increased since the Nepal earthquake and the collision between the Himalayan plate in the north and the Indo-Burmese plate in the east had put the entire region at risk.

Another report in The Wall Street Journal said that scientists were concerned about the area west of the Nepal earthquake, where the plates were still locked.

It is possible that the 2015 earthquake “failed to rupture the locked portions of the Himalayan thrust beneath and west of the Kathmandu basin because of some persistent barrier of mechanical and structural origin,” the report quoted a paper published in Nature Geoscience as saying.

The report added that the stress in the locked western Himalayan region could be released by an “afterslip”, which could cause a large earthquake.

Scientists have been predicting a massive earthquake ever since the 2015 earthquake struck Nepal.

According to this April 2015 IANS report, experts had said even then that a temblor of equal intensity is “overdue” in northern India. “An earthquake of the same magnitude is overdue. That may happen either today or 50 years from now… in the region of the Kashmir, Himachal, Punjab and Uttrakhand Himalyas. Seismic gaps have been identified in these regions,” BK Rastogi, the director general of the Ahmedabad-based Institute of Seismological Research, had said.

This is because the movement of tectonic plates generates stress over time, and rocks at the surface break in response. When the stress accumulates, every 100 km stretch of the 2,000-km-long Himalyas can be hit by a high-magnitude earthquake.

“The accumulation of stress is going on everywhere. But where it will reach the elastic limit, we don’t know nor also when. But what we do know is that it is happening everywhere (sic),” Rastogi had added.

With agency inputs

Manipur: Army Major Amit Deswal’s body recovered in Manipur

The body of Major Amit Deswal, who was killed in an encounter on Wednesday, was on Thursday recovered from a remote place in Tamenglong district in Manipur and being flown to Imphal, army officials said.The body will then be taken to Surheti in Jhajjar district of Haryana via New Delhi, Army officials said.Maj Deswal of 21 Para SF was killed in a gunbattle with ZUF militants in densely forested Nungba area during a combing operation undertaken by Rashtriya Rifles and Special Forces personnel.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One militant was also killed in the encounter. Deswal is survived by wife and a three-and-a-half years old son.For the time being, the combing operation which was going on for the last few days has been called off by the Army, the officials said.

At least two killed, 70 injured in Assam earthquake

At least two people have lost their lives and more than 70 have been injured in Assam after an earthquake measuring 6.8 at the Richter scale rocked eastern and north eastern parts of the country last evening.An earthquake, which hit Myanmar, triggered tremors in parts of Kolkata, Guwahati, Patna, Bhubaneswar and, also, Delhi.The earthquake also affected power supply, communications and rail services in some pockets for sometime in the region. National Centre for Seismology said in New Delhi that the epicentre of the quake was located in Myanmar, 100 KM off the India-Myanmar border.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”PM @narendramodi spoke to CMs of Assam & Manipur regarding the earthquake in the region. PM @narendramodi spoke to the CM of Nagaland regarding the earthquake in the region,” the official Twitter handle of the Prime Minister Office said.

After earthquake in east India, PM Modi speaks to CMs of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday spoke to Chief Ministers of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland after an earthquake struck these states.

“PM @narendramodi spoke to CMs of Assam & Manipur regarding the earthquake in the region,” said a tweet by the PMO.

“PM @narendramodi spoke to the CM of Nagaland regarding the earthquake in the region,” said another tweet later.

An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale shook the northeast, several parts of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and even Delhi and NCR.

There was no immediate report of any casualty or major damage.

The epicenter of the quake was in Myanmar, some 100 km off the India-Myanmar border.

In Guwahati, some people reported cracks in buildings while there was power outage for some time in Shillong.

Tremors were also felt in the northeastern states of Mizoram and Nagaland.

All the northeastern states are categorised under zone V in the country’s seismological map and are considered highly vulnerable.

JNU students’ fellowships denial ‘technical error’ says University

New Delhi: Amid allegations by JNU students who were debarred in connection with the controversial Afzal Guru event that there fellowships have been denied, the university today clarified that the non-disbursement is due to “technical error” and not “intentional”.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The university also maintained that a final decision on the quantum of punishment for the students in connection with the event has not been reached yet. Two scholars, Shweta Raj and JNU students union Rama Naga, had last week claimed that he university has denied their fellowships saying they are till under suspension.

Shweta and Naga, along with six other students were academically debarred by the university for over a month in connection with an event on campus against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised. JNU had revoked the suspension on March 11, after a high-level committee probing the issue submitted its report.

“The denial of fellowships to these students is not intentional but due to a technical error. The letter about revoking of their suspension from chief proctor’s office has not reached the fellowships department yet and hence the confusion. We are looking into the matter,” JNU Registrar Pramod Kumar said.

Kumar also rubbished talks about the university having reached a final decision regarding the quantum of punishment for students involved in the event, as “rumours”.

“These are all rumours. The university has not taken a decision yet. The Vice Chancellor and other administrative officials are not in Delhi and a final decision in this regard can be reached only when they are back,” he said.

While the Chief Proctor who is supposed to take a call on all disciplinary issues is in Manipur with other senior administrative officials for a three-day workshop on disaster management, the Vice Chancellor who is the final authority on punishments is out of town following his mother’s death.

Three students Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya were arrested in a sedition case over the event. They are now out on bail. The high-level committee probing the issue had found some students guilty of violating disciplinary norms of the university and disrupting communal harmony on campus. The panel is also believed to have recommended rustication of five students including Kanhaiya, Umar and Anirban and a monetary penalty for others.

JNU students not allowed to meet Irom Sharmila

A group of JNU students were not allowed to meet Manipuri human rights activist Irom Sharmila who was in city in connection with hearing of a 2006 case of attempted suicide, the charge which was dropped on Wednesday. The students were stopped at the barricade that was drawn by the police near Manipur House where Sharmila had put up.LIVE England vs New Zealand 1st Semi-Final T20, ICC World T20 2016, March 30, 2016The police reasoned that they could not allow Sharmila to address the students since she was still under judicial custody after refusing personal recognizance bond on offer on March 22 earlier this month.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After an-hour long negotiation, Sharmila emerged on the other side of the barricade to the loud cheer of the students. She acknowledged the students’ support through hand gesture as the students raised slogans against the AFSPA, against which Sharmila has been fasting for the last 16 years to get revoked.”Revoke AFSPA!”, “AFSPA down down” “Irom Sharmila Laal Salam” were among the few slogans that were raised in support of the “Iron Lady of Manipur”.The 1958 AFSPA rule, which is in effect in many parts of northeastern India and Kashmir, gives security forces sweeping powers to search and shoot on sight, and is criticised for allegedly allowing security personnel to abuse human rights.JNUSU Vice President Shehla Rashid condemned the “state agencies” for not allowing Sharmila to address the students.”We condemn this attitude of the state agencies who do not want us to meet Sharmila and support her cause. We need to keep fighting,” said Rashid.Although Sharmila could not address the students, the latter celebrated the dropping of charge of attempt to suicide.”Today is a day of victory for people who fight against oppression. Our fight is long but we will win this fight because our fight is for a genuine cause. They rape our women and sisters. We will continue our fight against this,” said Chinglen Khunukcham, Convener of North East Forum for International Solidarity.The students then held a march from near Manipur House to the main road at Chanakyapuri while raising slogans against AFSPA and in support of Sharmila.