Five Countries Raise AFSPA in NE India at UNHRC Review
Five countries including USA, Germany and Pakistan, raised issues of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) specifically relevant to India’s Northeast at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) periodic review held at Geneva.
India’s human rights record was reviewed in the UN Human Rights Council on November 10, 2022 at Geneva under the 4th cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
In connection with UNHRC review, Human Rights Alert (HRA) Executive Director Babloo Loitongbam told the media on November 22 at HRA office, Kwakeithel Thiyam Leikai, Imphal that during the review, 130 member states made 339 recommendations highlighting some of the most urgent human rights concerns in the country, including the protection of minority communities and vulnerable groups, tackling gender- based violence, upholding civil society freedoms, protecting human rights defenders, and ending torture in custody.
From the side of the civil society of Northeast India, Babloo Loitongbam and Khuraijam Athouba of the International Peace and Social Advancement (IPSA) and C Lalreruata of the Zo Indigenous Forum participated in the review.
Babloo told the media that some of the issues with specific relevance to Northeast India included the recommendation of ratification of Indigenous and Tribal People’s Convention 1989 (ILO Convention 169) by Paraguay.
Meanwhile, Estonia, Canada, Croatia, Czechia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Belgium, Lithuania, Italy and Greece recommended India to respect freedom of expression.
The issue of AFSPA was raised by five countries, namely Germany and US in the advance question prior to the session and Norway, Belgium and Pakistan during the session itself.
Germany, in the advanced question prior to the session, raised the issue of AFSPA as the first issue in the following words: “Does the Indian government consider to revise the Armed Forces (Special Powers Act) with a view to bringing it into compliance with obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and fighting impunity?”
The United States of America also raised the issue in its advanced question in the following words: “We note the Government of India’s rollback of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to promote accountability and justice. We continue to have concerns about section 197 of the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure, which does not fully address accountability for security forces and prevents victims from accessing justice”.
During the session, the United States spoke as the 92nd speaker and stated in its 2nd recommendation to “Ratify the Convention Against Torture and to prosecute those responsible for human rights abuses”
Norway, as the 53rd speaker, in its 4th recommendation stated: “Revise the Armed Forces [Special Powers] Act to ensure compliance with obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and consider reducing the Act’s geographic scope”.
Pakistan, as the 55th speaker, in its 5th recommendation stated: “Repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, National Security Act, Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019, and the National Register of Citizens”.
Belgium, as 109th speaker, in its 4th recommendation stated: “Withdraw the Armed Forces Act 1958 and 1990 from the districts where it remains fully or partially in jurisdiction”.
Babloo informed that, as done in the 2nd and 3rd cycles, the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the United Nations (CSCHR) submitted a stakeholder report for the 4th cycle of UPR, available online in the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In its national report submitted to the UN ahead of its UPR review, the Indian Government claimed, “It is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights”.
The civil society organisations of the North East region engaging with the UPR process hope that the Government of India will accept these recommendations and not simply take note of the recommendations. What actually matters to the citizens is the implementation of human rights on the ground, he added.
Union Tourism Minister Reddy Opens Sangai Festival 2022
The Manipur Sangai Festival 2022 kicked off on November 21 with Union Minister for Tourism, Culture and DoNER, G Kishan Reddy declaring the festival opened at Sangai Ethnic Park, Moirang Khunou. The festival is being celebrated at 13 different official venues across the state and will continue till November 30.
Speaking at the occasion, Reddy said he was fortunate to have met groups of 33 different communities in one place, who had come to represent their communities at the festival. He invited people across the country to visit Manipur and witness the beauty of the festival, reports said.
Reddy informed that India would host the next G20 Summit and as such many big events would be held across the country; and some events will also be held in the state.
Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren said the festival is celebrated as the “Festival of Oneness” to achieve unity through participation of all indigenous communities of the state and to encourage oneness, a sense of belongingness, and pride of ownership of the land among the people.
The festival is underway at 13 venues – Hapta Kangjeibung, MFSDS, City Convention Centre, Ibudhou Marjing Complex, Heingang and Khuman Lampak Sports Complex in Imphal East; Mapal Kangjeibung, Kangla Manung Kangjeibung in Imphal West; Moirang Khunou at Bishnupur district; Behiang and Khuga at Churachandpur district and at Mao and Makhel at Senapati District.
Film Bazaar Features Manipur Pavilion in Goa
Manipur Pavilion is being featured for the first time at Film Bazaar, South Asia’s largest film networking platform held alongside the International Film Festival of India (IFFI)-2022 in Goa. The 53rd edition of the film festival opened on November 20 and Film Bazaar 2022 was inaugurated on November 21 by Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry stated in a release that Manipur State Film Development Society (MSFDS) Secretary Sunzu Bachaspatimayum, Film Forum Manipur Chairman Laimayum Surjakant, DIPR Manipur staff and functionaries of Cine Artistes and Technicians Association (CATA) gave a detailed look at how filmmakers or financers from outside the state and abroad must choose Manipur as their next film destination.
Several filmmakers from cities like Mumbai have shown keen interest to collaborate with Manipur and to make Manipur their next shooting location, the release stated.
Manipur is being given a complimentary stall by Information & Broadcasting Ministry to mark the golden jubilee year. Twelve states are opening their stalls at the Film Bazaar. Three countries, including Russia, France and Dubai, have also opened their stalls at the Film Bazaar.
Deputy Ssecretary of the I&B Ministry, Armstrong Pame, who attended the Manipur Pavilion inauguration, said that the Ministry will study the possibility of setting up a regional office of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in Manipur as proposed by the state government, the release said.
RK Ranjan Interacts with Manipuri Community at Dhaka
India’s Union Minister of State for External Affairs Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan on November 25 has interacted with the Manipuri community in Bangladesh at India House, Dhaka.
Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan, Union Minister of State for External Affairs who headed the India delegation to the 22nd Council of Ministers’ Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) held on November 24 at Dhaka in Bangladesh met some members of the Manipuri community living in Bangladesh on November 25 at India House, Dhaka.
During the interaction, Rajkumar Ranjan discussed with the Manipuris about their livelihood, living standard and economic conditions. It is said that many Manipuris in Bangladesh feel ashamed of doing carpentry, masonary and even agriculture as professions rather they prefer to live like high middle class families at the cost of their landed properties.
The need to impart new skills to the younger generations of the Manipuri community in Bangladesh was discussed during the interaction.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan told the Indian Embassy at Dhaka to take up the initiative to impart skill trainings in the field of Information Technology and multimedia like 3-D animation etc. The India Embassy will take up three-month training programme with trainers or faculties from either Manipur University or Manipur Technical University, sources said.
CM Launches Hydraulic Excavator at Sendra
Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren launched the Hydraulic Excavator (Long Boom) at Sendra, Loktak Lake on November 21, in the presence of Public Health Engineering Minister Leishangthem Susindro Meitei and Chairman, Loktak Development Authority (LDA) Moirangthem Asnikumar. The programme was organised by Loktak Development Authority (LDA).
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren said that Loktak Lake is very important for the people of Manipur and as such the state government has been taking up various initiatives to preserve the lake. He informed that a cabinet sub-committee had been formed to further initiate preservation of the lake and added that demarcation of the area of the Loktak Lake would be carried out soon.
The Chief Minister assured that the state government would make sure that the locals don’t face any hardship during the rejuvenation work, adding that various steps had been taken up considering the necessity to save the lake. He continued that various floating huts were removed, though they were beautiful and further stressed the need to set up huts in systematic and hygienic ways, so that the environment of the lake is not deteriorated, reports said.
LDA Chairman, M Asnikumar stated that various development efforts had been taken up to preserve the Loktak Lake, under the initiative of Chief Minister. He further said that the State is coming up with a master plan to rejuvenate the Loktak Lake in a long term approach, with the support of Asian Development Bank.
NCB Not Empowered to Investigate Offences Beyond NDPS Act
The Manipur High Court on November 21, setting aside a Special Court (NDPS) order which had directed Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) to take appropriate steps regarding a case, permitted the NCB to handover the seized arms and ammunition, sandalwood and gem stones to either the Imphal Police Station or the Moreh Police Station or any other Police Station/agency for further investigation.
The Narcotic Control Bureau, being aggrieved with the order of the Special Court, filed revision petition before the HC with a prayer to permit handing over the case and seized items.
On December 7, 2020, the NCB conducted search and seizure operations at two clandestine makeshift laboratories located at Ward No. 3, Moreh in Tengnoupal district. Following the operation, the NCB seized various items like W/Y tablets, gemstones, mobile phones, currencies, a double bore gun with live cartridges and sandalwood, and ice crystal.
The NCB also registered a case against six accused found at the spot under Sections 8(c), 22(c), 27A and 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (for brevity, the Act of 1985).
On December 11, 2020, the NCB sought permission to handover the seized arms and ammunition, sandalwood and gem stones to either the Imphal Police Station or the Moreh Police Station or any other Police Station/Agency for further investigation before the Special Court judge. The NCB sought permission as it was not empowered to investigate offences under any enactment other than the Act of 1985.
Court DGP to Ensure Execution of Warrants
The Special Judge, NDPS, Fast Track Court, Manipur on November 24 directed the DGP Manipur to ensure compliance of arrest warrant issued by courts and SP Imphal East against an accused after OC Porompat failed to execute it on six occasions. The court further asked the DGP Manipur to avoid lapses on delay in execution of arrest warrant issued by the courts, especially in cases of non-bailable arrest warrant.
The court suggested issuing directives to all SPs to make periodical checks in all the police stations which fall within their respective jurisdiction to ensure that no arrest warrant issued by the courts are kept pending unreasonably, but are expeditiously executed.
The court had issued an arrest warrant against the accused, Leimapokpam Tomcha, 34, son of Leimapokpam Yaimachaoba of Wangkhei Ningthem Pukhri Mapal, Imphal East in April, June, July, August and September 2022, to be executed by OC Porompat for illegal possession of 97 Kg of ganja on September 12, 2000.
The prosecution submitted the charge sheet before the court on March 29, 2014 for trial against the accused. But, the arrest warrant issued by the court was neither executed nor any report for non-execution returned.
The court reacted that the indifferent attitude of the OC Porompat in non-compliance with the judicial order has made the court doubt the sincerity and integrity of the concerned officer in carrying out his lawful duties or his responsibilities as per the law of the land.
“If such defiance is continued, this court will not hesitate to initiate criminal proceedings against the recalcitrant officer,” the court warned. The court stated that it will be futile to direct again to the OC to execute the arrest warrant and directed the SP to execute it.
Court Directs Immediate Arrest of Drug Convict
Special Judge NDPS Manipur Kh Ajit Sing on November 23 directed OC Lilong Police Station to immediately arrest a convict involved in drug smuggling case. The court issued a non-bailable warrant of arrest against the convict, Md Shafiqur Rahman, 31, son of Md Amu of Lilong Taireng Makhong.
The court had ordered the convict to surrender by November 23. The convict, however, failed to surrender before the court for which the counsel of the convict prayed for fixing the returnable on November 30, informing that the convict was not well. Accordingly, the court issued the non-bailable warrant against the convict, returnable on November 30. The court further directed OC Lilong to send a copy of the warrant of arrest notice to DGP, Manipur for a speedy arrest.
It may be mentioned that Rahman was convicted for transporting 16,200 SP capsules. He was arrested by Sekmai police from Sekmai Bazar with drugs in his posession on August 5, 2013.
Two MNPF Cadres Arrested
A combined team of 4 Assam Rifles and special commando unit of Khabeisoi arrested two active cadres of an underground outfit Manipur Naga People’s Front (MNPF) from the gate of Santhei Natural Park, Andro in Imphal East district at around 12.14 pm on November 20.
The arrested persons have been identified as Abner Jajo, 35, son of Asopeter Jajo of Khuntak village, Khuntak Yairipok, Kamjong district and Mashungkhui Jajo, 26, son of Paothingam Jajo of Sotung (Somthar), Kamjong district, reports said.
They were arrested during frisking and checking by the combined team acting on specific information received from 4 Assam Rifles regarding the presence of two suspected persons of the outfit in the general area of Andro near Santhei Natural Park’s gate.
On further verification Abner disclosed that he joined the outfit in 2016 through one David of Chadong village, Kamjong district, who is holding the post of surgeon major of the outfit while Mashungkhui disclosed that he also joined the outfit through David in 2012 and got basic military training at Heikol, Myanmar. Mashungkhui said he received basic military training at 252 Battalion Khoiriphaba, Myanmar and presently holds the post of corporal of the outfit. Presently both cadres are working under the command of chairman of the outfit, Francis, reports added.
Book Released Commemorating 23 Exiled Heroes of Manipur
The 132nd commemorative function of the 23 Manipuri exiled heroes to Andaman Islands in 1891 was held at BT Park Southern side, organised by Forum for Protection of Heritage of 23 Unsung Hero, Andaman Chapter, 1891.
During the commemorative function, a book “Andamanda Loi Thakhiba Athouba 23”, authored by Kakchingtabam Gunachandra Sharma, was also released.
Minister for MAHUD, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Yumnam Khemchand expressed gratitude to the central government for recognising Mount Manipur at Andaman Island.
Rajya Sabha MP Sanajaoba Leishemba, assuring of state function at Mount Manipur, appealed to Minister Khemchand to look after the matter of maintaining cleanliness of BT Park
Cultural Flavour of Manipur to Centerstage: Governor
Manipur Governor La Ganesan has said that the Sangai Festival is now recognised as a national event and has brought the cultural flavour of Manipur to centerstage.
Speaking as chief guest at the Cultural Evening held at Bhagyachandra Open Air Theatre (BOAT) in Imphal on November 23, Manipur Governor La Ganesan said, it is very comforting that the Tourism Department under the state government has been making honest efforts to woo the tourists and make Manipur a popular tourist destination.
La Ganesan said, the Manipur Sangai Festival is definitely a step towards this objective by making it a calendar event in the state. This festival provides an opportunity to showcase various aspects of the traditions and culture, besides promoting our handloom and handicraft products. The Governor further said that Manipur is undoubtedly a beautiful state with a huge potential for developing into a tourist destination. It abounds in natural beauty with the valley and the hill districts arrayed to satisfy every tourist’s palate of nature, reports added.
Information and Technology Special Economic Zone Soon
Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren on November 24 said that the first building of Information and Technology Special Economic Zone (IT SEZ) will be ready soon and it is expected to create employment opportunities for about 1,500-2,000 persons.
Addressing a one-day international business summit ‘Gateway Manipur- Cconnecting ASEAN Countries’ at Classic Hotel in Imphal, Chief Minister Biren highlighted that Manipur is the gateway to ASEAN and beyond for India. Better connectivity would have a positive impact on sectors like tourism, logistics, services sector, healthcare, education; IT and IT enabled services towards ensuring inclusive and sustainable growth.
Reports said the inaugural session was also attended by Minister Counsellor (Commercial) Royal Thai Embassy, Thailand; Saithong Soiphet, Minister Counsellor (Commercial) Royal Thai; Embassy to India, Surapat Phosaen, General Secretary, India; Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries; SM Abdul Kalam Azad and CEO, Textiles Sector Skill Council, Swapra Mishra.
The summit was organised by Manipur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) in association with the government of Manipur.
Pseudoephedrine of Rs 118 Crore Value Recovered at Indo-Myanmar Border
Moreh Battalion of Assam Rifles under the aegis of Headquarter Inspector General Assam Rifles (South) foiled cross border smuggling of narcotics at Mobile Vehicle Check Post, Phungchong Village — New Moreh, Indo-Myanmar border town in Manipur.
Reports said the Assam Rifles recovered 118 kg of Pseudoephedrine tablets from an auto rickshaw which was intercepted on November 23 at a Mobile Vehicle Check Post which was established following a specific input regarding movement of drug dealer along with contraband drugs. Pseudoephedrine tablets which is precursor and main ingredient used to make methamphetamine and is a controlled substance.
On detailed search of the Auto Rickshaw, five sacks (118 kg) containing suspected Pseudoephedrines were detected. “The cost of 118 kg of Pseudoephedrine is Rs 118 crore in international market,” reports quoting the Assam Rifles sources said.
Khwairamband Keithel Women Vendors Halt Business
Women vendors of Khwairamband Keithel halt their business and conducted cleanliness and beautification drive in and around market areas at Khwairamband, Imphal on November 23, the first day of Meitei lunar month of Poinu.
Khwairamband Keithel cleanliness drive was conducted in implementation of the government order for the markets to be closed every first day of the lunar calendar month for cleaning of the market areas. Earlier, following the government instruction, cleanliness drive was conducted in only four Khwairamband Ima markets on the 1st day of each lunar calendar month, except on traditional occasions.
However, as per notification issued by Th Harikumar, Municipal Commissioner, Imphal Municipal Corporation on November 10, all shops, vendors markets, including the four Nupi Keithels at Khwairamband, Lamlong, Kongba, Singjamei, Kwakeithel, Tera Bazaar, Lamphel Super Market, Thangal Bazaar and Paona Bazaar are to remain closed every Nongma Panba (1st day of lunar months), except on Sajibu Nongma Panba, Engen Nongma Panba and Hiyangei Nongma Panba for the purpose of cleaning their respective shops and markets.
Wages ‘Withdrawn’ Without Consent of Job Card Holders
Wages of more than 50 job card holders of Changamdabi Gram Panchayat have been allegedly withdrawn from banks without the knowledge of the job card holders, Md Imran Shah, public relation officer of MLA Th ShyamKumar said on November 23.
Speaking to the media in front of Manipur State Cooperative Bank, Porompat branch, Imphal East on November 23, Imran said that under the direct transfer benefits, the wages of job card holders under MGNREGA are transferred to bank accounts of respective job card holders.
Most of the bank accounts of job card holders of Changamdabi Gram Panchayat are opened at MSCB, Porompat branch and when the job card holders went to withdraw their wages at the bank, it was found that the wages amount had already been withdrawn, he added.
When the job card holders enquired the officials of the bank, they were told to submit an application regarding the issue and even after submitting that, the officials, instead of solving the issue, are playing delay tactics, he alleged.
Kuki Chiefs Association Against New Police Outposts at Khengjoi
The Kuki Chiefs Association Khengjoi Subdivision, Chandel district has decided to oppose the outposts within the Khenjoi Sub-division, terming it “unnecessary”.
“The Kuki Chiefs Association, Khengjoi Subdivision request the concerned authority to kindly cancel the five outposts within Khengjoi Sub-Division,” the association stated in a release. KCA informaton secretary Letsei Haokip stated that Kuki chiefs decided at an emergency meeting held at Khopinom village on November 22 to oppose the setting up of outposts within the Khengjoi Sub-Division.
The release further said the meeting was attended by 60 per cent of the chiefs and appealed to the authorities concerned to ensure proper functioning of the existing police stations instead of creating new outposts which will be the same as the existing ones.