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AFSPA Partially Removed from Assam, Manipur and Nagaland, Goods Train Reaches Khongsang, MPCC Elects Leaders

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on March 31 informed that the government has decided to reduce the ‘Disturbed Areas’ under Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) 1958 in three Northeastern States of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland after decades.

“In a significant step, GoI under the decisive leadership of PM Shri @NarendraModi Ji has decided to reduce disturbed areas under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the states of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur after decades,” the home minister said in a Twitter post.

Another Twitter post added, “Reduction in areas under AFSPA is a result of the improved security situation and fast-tracked development due to the consistent efforts and several agreements to end insurgency and bring lasting peace in North East by PM @narendramodi government.”

While AFSPA has been removed completely from 23 districts and partially from one district of Assam from April 1, 2022, as many as 15 police station areas of six districts of Manipur have been excluded from the Disturbed Area Notification from April 1, 2022. In Nagaland, the Disturbed Area Notification is withdrawn from 15 police stations in seven districts from April 1, 2022.

In Manipur, the “Disturbed Area” status under section 3 of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1985 is withdrawn from the 15 police stations, including six withdrawn earlier, with immediate effect from April 1 for a period of one year, said Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren on March 31.

Of the total police stations seven are in Imphal West, four in Imphal East, one each in Thoubal, Bishnupur, Kakching and Jiribam.

The six police stations from where the Disturbed Area tag was withdrawn earlier are Imphal police station, Lamphel, Singjamei, Porompat, City and Heingang.

The nine police stations (PS) are Sekmai, Lamsang and Patsoi PS in Imphal West, Lamlai PS and Irilbung PS in Imphal East, Bishnupur PS in Bishnupur district, Kakching PS in Kakching district, Thoubal PS in Thoubal district and Jiribam PS in Jiribam district. With this, the total police stations from where AFSPA is withdrawn summing up to 15.

EEVFAM, HRA for Prosecution Sanction Guarantee

The Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families’ Association, Manipur (EEVFAM) and Human Rights Alert (HRA) have welcomed the revocation of disturbed area status from some parts of India’s Northeast States of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland with effect from April 1 by a decision of Union Home Ministry of India.

Welcoming the revocation of AFSPA from some parts of Assam, EEVFAM and Human HRA have suggested the Government of India that the next logical step would be to grant prosecution sanction of the security personnel found to be involved in the extrajudicial killing of civilians.

EEVFAM and HRA, in a joint release issued on April 1, recalled the petition filed before the Supreme Court seeking justice for 1,528 documented victims of extrajudicial executions carried out from 1979 to 2012 in Manipur under the shadow of AFSPA.

A SIT of the CBI was directed to investigate cases where there is already an earlier prima facie finding, it said, adding CBI registered 39 FIRs, out of which 30 final reports have been submitted to the respective court in Manipur.

Pointing out that when the alleged perpetrators are police personnel, the State Government has granted prosecution sanction and the trials are going on.

However, when the perpetrators are personnel of the central armed forces, the Home Ministry has passed orders denying prosecution sanctions under section 6 of AFSPA. Six such cases have been submitted to the court so far, it added.

“When sufficient evidence of the extrajudicial killing is laid out before the courts by none other than the premier investigating agency of the country, and that too under the direction of the apex court, the Centre is insisting to halt all further legal proceedings,” the release mentioned.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of Imphal West has referred the matter to the High Court of Manipur in February 2021 to ascertain on how to proceed with the cases but with little progress in the High Court, the victims seeking justice are left high and dry, the release added.

Rs 1,016 Crore Released

The Manipur government has released a total amount of Rs 1,016 crore through the Finance department since the formation of the new government on March 21 till March 31. The amount consists largely of Central and State Share of Centrally Sponsored Schemes. The State Finances are said to be stable as on date, reports said.

The sanctions and releases have been made considering the State’s resource position, anticipated receipts and revenue, etc., besides the nature of work executed and urgency for payment, among others, the government stated.

It also stated that all sanctions have been made through e-office without physical interface between sanctioning authorities in the Finance department and Work Agencies /Suppliers/ Contractors.

Work Agencies/ Suppliers/ Contractors may follow up with the administrative department concerned regarding the status of sanctions and releases, it stated.

The state government said it is committed to ensuring cleanliness, transparency and efficiency in public administration. All heads of department/officials are advised not to promote any type of malpractice in clearing of files, it added.

First Goods Train Arrives at Khongsang

In a historic moment for Manipur and India as a whole, the first goods train arrived at Khongsang Station from Rani Gaidinliu Station on the first Jiribam-Imphal railway line in Manipur on March 28, 2022, covering a distance of 56 km.

Expressing satisfaction Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren tweeted, “As promised in our election campaign, I’m pleased to share that the first goods train has successfully arrived at Khongsang Station from Rani Gaidinliu Station(56 Km). Immensely thankful to Hon’ble PM Shri@narendramodi ji for his unwavering support for development of Manipur.”

BJP national spokeperson Sambit Patra hailed the successful arrival of the goods train and said that the train will boost connectivity and commerce in Manipur.

“Transformation of Manipur continues! The first goods train arrived at Khongsang station from Rani Gaidinliu station. The train will boost the connectivity & commerce in Manipur. Thank you hon’ble PM Shri@NarendraModi Ji, for taking Manipur to new heights of development,” Sambit Patra tweeted.

The railway line between Rani Gaidinliu Station at Oinamlong village to Khongsang Station at Khongsang is a part of the Rs 14000-crore Jiribam-Imphal new broad gauge railway line project.

It may be mentioned that the first ever goods train in Manipur reached Rani Gaidinliu Railway Station, Tamenglong in Manipur on January 27, 2022.

The Jiribam-Imphal railway new broad gauge railway line project being constructed at an estimated cost of over Rs 14,000 crore has 46 tunnels, including a 12-km single tube tunnel, which is the second longest in Indian Railways network, and 153 bridges.

Although the crucial 111 km Jiribam to Imphal new line project has been delayed due to several reasons, the Northeast Frontier Railway has accelerated the work to complete it within the revised timeline, reports added.

It may also be mentioned that the project was first sanctioned and included in the 2004-05 Budget. The detailed estimate was sanctioned in 2013 and work was bid out subsequently.

Congress Appoints CLP Leader

 Okram Ibobi; Kangujam Ranjit; Thokchom Lokeshwar; Keisham Meghachandra

Manipur Congress party on March 30 appointed former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi as Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Leader, MLA Kangujam Ranjit as Deputy Leader and Former Speaker Thokchom Lokeshwar as Chief Whip of the CLP in Manipur.

Meanwhile, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) appointed MLA Keisham Meghachandra as President of Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) while T Manga Vaiphei, Md Fajur Rahim, Victor Keishing and Khumanthem Devabrata as Working Presidents of MPCC; and MLA Thokchom Lokeshwar as Treasurer of MPCC.

The appoint order of the AICC signed by the General Secretary, KC Venugopal and issued in the name of the AICC President further mentioned that Vidyapati Senjam, Alfred K Arthur, L Tilotama, Hareshwar Goshwami and Lamtinthang Haokip were appointed as Vice-Presidents of MPCC.

Okram Ibobi, Gangmei Gaikhangam, TN Haokip, Moirangthem Okendro, Nameirakpam Loken, Th Meinya, Thangso Baite, Irengbam Hemochandra DD Thaisii, Tongbram Mangibabu, Akoijam Mirabai, Khumujam Ratankumar, Okram Joy and Moirangthem Hemanta were appointed as Members of the Executive Committee of the MPCC, the order of the AICC added.

MOU Signed for Sports Digital Experience Centre

The Manipur State Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Samsung Data System India Pvt. Ltd. and Abhitech IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd. on March 30 in the presence of Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren at the cabinet hall of Chief Minister’s Secretariat, for setting up a world class ‘Sports Digital Experience Centre’ at Khuman Lampak Sports Complex as a part of Manipur Olympian Park.

The state government was represented by special secretary, Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of Manipur Namoijam Kheda Varta Singh while the Samsung Data System India Pvt. Ltd. was represented by director of Business Development, India and SAARC Tae Heun Kim and Abhitech IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd. by CEO and director Amit Mohan Srivastava.

SAPO Suspends NH-2 Blockade

The Indefinite Bandh imposed by the Southern Angami Public Organisation (SAPO) on National Highway No. 2 in Nagaland sector blocking movements of all the vehicles including passenger buses entering to Manipur since March 21 has been suspended from March 31.

A statement of the Southern Angami Public Organisation (SAPO) issued on March 31 said that the indefinite bandh against the state of Manipur along the National Highway-2 on the request of the Tenyimi People’s Organisation (TPO) and Angami Organisation.

SAPO had imposed an indefinite bandh since March 21 along the National Highway-2 (earlier NH-39) demanding the Manipur government to withdraw its armed personnel and permanent structures from the “Kezoltsa area”.

Imphal-Mao-Imphal Bus Service Launched

Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren launched Manipur State Bus (MST) Bus Service for Imphal-Mao at MST Complex at Moirangkhom in Imphal West on March 30.

Launching the Imphal-Mao MST bus service Chief Minister Biren said that 28 buses are ready for passenger service at MST at present. Of them, two buses are kept reserved for Imphal-Mao service. The importance of the launch of Imphal-Mao bus service lies in the fact that the relationship between the people of Imphal and Mao, including other districts located at the border area of Manipur, will become better with the help of this bus service, reports said.

Congress Protests Skyrocketing Prices

Condemning the continuous increasing prices of essential commodities, the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) on March 31 staged a sit-in protest at its premises, Congress Bhawan in Imphal as a part of the nationwide campaign launched by the All India Congress Committee (AICC).

Reports said the MPCC demanded the immediate reduction of the prices of all the petroleum products such as petrol, diesel, gas cylinder, piped natural gas (PNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG).

Addressing media at the side-lines of the protest, CLP leader Okram Ibobi said that the BJP-led government had made several promises for the welfare of people at the time of election. But unfortunately, right after the election, all the prices of essential commodities skyrocketed. Such steps of the BJP government have hit everyone hard particularly the poor people of the state. The Congress will continue to fight against such anti-poor people policies of the BJP government, he stated while appealing the government to frame a policy to avail all petroleum products at a cheaper price even if the prices are hiked at international market, reports added.

COVID Restrictions Lifted

The Manipur State Executive Committee of the State Disaster Management Authority on March 31 lifted all restrictions imposed relating to gatherings and meetings for elections under Disaster Management Act, 2005 for Covid-19 management.

However, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and guidelines issued by the Education Department shall continue to be in force and the Health Department shall closely watch and monitor the situation and shall take prompt and proactive action at local level as advised by the Centre wherever any surge in the number of cases is observed, stated an order issued by Chief Secretary Rajesh Kumar.

It stated that the order was issued after the absolute number of Covid-19 cases detected per day fell below 10 cases and the test positivity ratio remained below 1 per cent over the last seven days.

Moreover, the Centre had advised the state governments to consider discontinuing issue of orders and guidelines under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 for Covid containment measures, it mentioned.

The order, however, advised the public to continue use of face masks and maintain hand hygiene.

Lokayukta Probe

Two persons, including an employee of Manipur State Power Company Limited (MSPCL), were arrested for alleged involvement in embezzlement of huge amounts of public money from the fund released for government projects.

Reports said the two are identified as Aribam Rajendra Sharma, the then AE of Lokchao Sub-Station and now re-engaged as DGM/Transmission Div. No. III, MSPCL and Okram Yaiskul Singh, the then SO Transmission Construction Div. No. 1 (now retired). They were produced before the Special Judge (Lokayukta), Manipur and the court has remanded them to police custody for further investigation as prayed by the IO of the case.

Okram Joy for Boundary Demarcation for NE States

Claiming that boundary dispute is one of the main causes of tension among states of India’s Northeast, veteran politician Okram Joy on March 31 appealed to the Government of India and other authorities concerned to demarcate boundaries of all north eastern states at the earliest.

Reports said during a press conference held at Congress Bhawan, Joy objected to Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren’s statement that there is no boundary dispute between Manipur and Nagaland. Joy said that most of the tension erupted between north eastern states of India is mainly associated with non-demarcation of boundaries. To promote harmonious co-existence between the states of the region, the Government of India should settle the long pending problem of boundary issues, he said.

He recalled that under North Eastern Reorganisation Act, which was passed on December 30, 1971, many states were established by reducing the area of Assam. They are Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. But unfortunately, the government of India failed to demarcate the areas of these states till date. As a result of it, there is a dispute between Assam and Manipur, Nagaland and Assam, Assam and Meghalaya etc., the veteran politician said.

Even leaders of North East Regional Political Forum in 1985 unanimously accepted that not demarcating the boundaries between NE states has led to tension between various NE region, he added.

While claiming that not settling boundary disputes is almost similar to adopting divide and rule policy between this region which is mainly inhabited by the Mongoloid community, he appealed to the Government of India to settle the boundary dispute by considering it as a long term mechanism to have peaceful coexistence between the NE states.

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