Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

Mirabai being felicitated at a state function by Chief Minsiter, N. Biren upon her return to Imphal

Grand Welcome and Felicitation for Mirabai; Govindas Resigns as MPCC President and MLA; SC Verdict on Fate of 12 MLAs Deferred; COVID Still Raging

India’s Olympic Medal Tally opener Manipur’s Saikhom Mirabai Chanu was felicitated by the State and people on July 27 with a rousing welcome home from Tokyo.

Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren along with his colleagues and associates amongst hundreds of people received the ace weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu at the Bir Tikendrajit International Imphal Airport in the afternoon on July 27.

On the way from the airport to City Convention Centre, Palace Compound, Imphal she was given a rousing welcome along Sega Road by the public with traditional drums and music cheering her with slogan, “Long live Mirabai, Long live Manipur”.

The State hosted a grand reception ceremony for Olympic silver medallist Saikhom Mirabai Chanu. During the function, Chief Minister Biren handed over the reward of Rs 1 crore along with an appointment letter for the post of additional SP (Police) to Saikhom Mirabai.

In the felicitation function, Mirabai said, “My strong desire to put the tiny state of Manipur on the world map has been one of my driving forces to achieve this medal,” reports added.

Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren said that winning a silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics by Saikhom Mirabai Chanu is the proudest moment for the state. He congratulated Mirabai’s parents stating that her daughter has become the first athlete of Manipur to win a silver medal in Olympic Games.

Youth Affairs and Sports (YAS) Minister Letpao Haokip said by winning the silver medal in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics Mirabai has proved that even a small state can stand tall at the international level.

Reports said during the function, YAS department presented Rs 10 lakh to Mirabai Chanu for breaking the world record by lifting 119 kg in clean and jerk at Asian Weightlifting Championship held in April this year. Education department also handed over a cash reward of Rs 3 lakh to the silver medallist.

After the felicitation function, Mirabai visited her office along with her parents, reports said.

Later, Saikhom Mirabai headed to her native village Nongpok Kakching in Imphal East led by a motorcade of well wishers, local clubs and police in spite of the ongoing total curfew to curb COVID-19. All along the way to her village, hordes including young and old, lined up and cheered Mirabai chanting slogans “Long live Mirabai, Long live Manipur”.

“I have no words to express how happy I am. The love and support extended to me is overwhelming. Right from the airport till here your warm welcome has this day the greatest day of my life”, Mirabai said addressing a gathering at her village.

Mirabai attributed the Olympic glory to the unflinching support of her parents, coaches and well wishers including truck drivers who drove her from home to weight lifting training centre at Khuman Lampak, reports added.

Govindas Konthoujam Resigns as MLA

Former Manipur Congress President Govindas Konthoujam on July 28 resigned as member of the State Legislative Assembly and from the party’s primary membership.

Reports said State Assembly Speaker Yumnam Khemchand has accepted the resignation tendered by Govindas Konthoujam as member of the State Assembly.

In a letter submitted to the Manipur Legislative Assembly Speaker, Govindas Konthoujam stated that he was tendering his resignation as a member of the house.

Govindas also submitted his resignation from the primary membership of the Indian National Congress. In a letter addressed to the MPCC interim President Nameirakpam Loken, Govindas said he was tendering his resignation on personal grounds.

Earlier Govindas had quit the post of the state Congress party president on July 20. As Congress MLA from Bishnupur AC, he was appointed as MPCC president by party leader Sonia Gandhi in December 2020.

SC Defers Disqualification Case of 12 MLAs

The Supreme Court on July 26 heard pleas related to disqualification of 12 MLAs who were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries in Manipur in an office of profit case and deferred hearing the matter till August 3.

Reports said the Supreme Court was likely to announce the final judgment on July 26 on the disqualification case of 12 MLAs, who were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries in Manipur for holding office of profit.

The date was fixed after the hearing of the case before the Supreme Court on July 5 as per a petition filed by Congress MLA DD Thaisii and other Special Leave Petitions filed before the Court.

Earlier, the High Court also made it clear that the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary and Allowances and Miscellaneous Provision) Repealing Act 2018 was invalid.

After hearing the petition filed by Congress MLAs Surjakumar Okram and DD Thaisii, the High Court of Manipur passed a judgement on September 18, 2020 which categorically stated that the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary and Allowances and Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 2012 and the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary and Allowances and Miscellaneous Provision) Repealing Act 2018 are unconstitutional.

The 12 MLAs who were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries are Leishangthem Susindro of Khurai Assembly Constituency (AC) -BJP, Nahakpam Indrajit of Kshetrigao AC -BJP Lourembam Rameshwor of Keirao AC -BJP, Thokchom Satyabrata of Yaiskul AC -BJP, Heikham Dingko of Sekmai AC -BJP, Dr Sapam Ranjan of Konthoujam AC -BJP, Soibam Subhashchandra of Naoriya Pakhanglakpa AC -BJP who has since resigned from the Assembly, Kongkham Robindro of Mayang Imphal AC -BJP, Keishing Leishiyo of Phungyar AC -NPF, Khasim Vashum of Chingai AC -NPF, Awangbow Newmai of Tamei AC -NPF and Asab Uddin of Jiribam AC -IND.

The 12 MLAs were sworn in as Parliamentary Secretaries on March 15, 2017, the day chief minister Nongthombam Biren and his Council of Ministers were sworn in.

The Congress MLA DD Thaisii filed the writ petition before the Supreme Court, seeking direction to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to give its opinion to the governor of Manipur regarding the disqualification of the 12 MLAs.

The ECI in March gave its opinion in favour of the 12 MLAs on the basis of two laws which granted them exemption. The two laws were the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary and Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2012, and the Manipur Parliamentary (Appointment, Salary and Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Repealing Act, 2018.

Both Acts ceased to exist after the Manipur High Court pronounced them invalid and unconstitutional in a judgment on 17 September 2020.

Higher COVID-19 Positivity Rate in Rural Areas

Higher COVID-19 positivity rate in Manipur is now shifting from urban to rural areas due to maintaining strict Covid Appropriate Behaviour more in urban areas according to findings of the IDSP section under the State Health Department.

This was informed by director of State Health Services Dr. K Rajo on July 30 while speaking in a press meet at Medical Directorate Health Services Complex, Lamphelpat.

The director said that comparing district wise data in the last 10 days, Imphal West has high positivity rate in valley district while Churachandpur has high positivity rate among hill districts. He asserted that a community home isolation centre is highly essential in every district. In 28 Covid care centres, 3,206 beds are available. A 300-bedded centre at NIT, Lamphelpat will be activated soon, reports said.

In 16 districts, there are 150 community home isolation centres, in all centres the state government is providing meals to prevent further spreading of the virus. He reminded that as per the government’s order issued on July 26, meals are being provided to inmates of Covid care centres in the state.

“House-to-house testing drives are being conducted in districts while the rate of contact tracing is also increasing. Now, home testing kits are also approved for use at home,” Rajo said.

According to a house-to-house testing report, since July 10, a total 16,225 households have been covered; 31,579 persons were tested and 2,970 were found in contact tracing in 16 districts except for Ukhrul, reports added.

Manipur Curfew Extended Till August 3

The 10-day total curfew imposed in the entire State of Manipur from July 18 till July 27 to curb the transmission of COVID-19 in the state has been extended by another seven days with effect from July 28 till August 3.

The state government on July 27 announced the extension of total curfew in an order issued by State Executive Committee chairman and chief secretary Rajesh Kumar.

However, insurance offices are permitted to open for three days in a week from 10 am to 2.30 pm like in the case of banks, i.e. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the order stated. Vegetables, fish, meat and grocery items are included in the list of e-commerce for home delivery in addition to the other items permitted in the previous order. Authorised delivery staffs are also allowed home delivery of cooked food, the order added.

Singtom Village is First Fully Vaccinated Chandel Village

Singtom village under Chakpikarong sub-division of Chandel district has become the first COVID-19 fully vaccinated village in the entire district on July 29.

Reports said the Deputy Commissioner of Chandel District Mayanglambam Rajkumar stated that Singtom village has a total population of 394 with174 people eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Of the 174 eligible for vaccinations, 173 persons have received the COVID-19 vaccine, including seven pregnant women and nine lactating mothers. Only a single person has been left out since he is currently COVID-19 positive and not eligible to take the vaccine at the moment.

Rs 10 Crore Drugs Seized in Moreh

Moreh Battalion of Assam Rifles seized 2 lakh WY tablets worth around Rs 10 crore from the Indo-Myanmar border on July 26.

Reports said the AR troops were on routine patrolling duty along the border area when they observed suspicious movements of some individuals on a two-wheeler. On being stopped by the troops, the two abandoned their vehicle and fled into the jungle.

Upon thorough checking of the area, the troops found a bag containing nearly 2 lakhs WY tablets estimated to be worth Rs 10 crore. The seized narcotics along with the foreign-origin motorcycle were handed over to Moreh Police for further necessary legal actions, reports added.

Mob Sets Ablaze Moreh Police Commando Complex

An agitated mob set Moreh Police commando complex on fire on July 26 after commando personnel allegedly beat a man and put him at Moreh Police station for violating curfew.

Reports said one Mapao who worked at Telecom Moreh was stopped in front of SBI Moreh around 4.30 pm on July 26 by commando personnel who were on duty. Mapao who alleged the commando personnel of obstructing and beating him while he was going to work, called help on his phone.

A huge mob gathered shortly at the Police Station. When Police told the mob that they are free to take Mapao out of the station, they reportedly declined the offer and demanded to handover the commando personnel involved in beating and arresting him.

In the late evening, a large mob stormed the commando complex and started kicking down the gate. The mob also threw burning tires into the complex and started the fire, reports added.

AMSU Wants RIMS to  Sack Fake ECG technician

The All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) demands that ECG technicians engaged recently on contract basis for six months at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) should be quashed immediately, alleging that of five posts, three were allegedly found to be not qualified while one was found using a fake certificate.

Reports quoted the AMSU vice-president Laishram Athouba as saying that the AMSU will send a report to the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry to probe into the cases of corruption at the hospital, during a press conference held at its head office located at DM University campus, Imphal on July 29.

Athouba said that of the five engaged candidates, one selected candidate was allegedly found using a fake diploma certificate from Bharat Sevak Samaj, West Bengal while two were found to be unqualified as their diploma courses were incomplete.

He demanded that the appointment should be cancelled immediately and the authority concerned should conduct a new recruitment process for the said post and should select candidates on merit basis, reports added.

Gold Smuggler Arrested

Tengnoupal Battalion of Assam Rifles apprehended a gold smuggler with 16 gold biscuits at Permanent Vehicle Check Post, Khudengthabi on July 28.

Reports said during routine checking at the check post, a suspicious individual travelling on a two-wheeler was stopped. On thorough checking of the two-wheeler, 16 concealed gold biscuits weighing 2.66 Kg estimated to be worth Rs 1.33 crore were found concealed in the vehicle. The apprehended smuggler along with seized gold biscuits has been handed over to Customs department.

KSO Bans Transportation of Medicine at Moreh

The Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO) Moreh block banned transportation of medicines in Moreh town.

Reports said the KSO and all pharmacists in Moreh town held a meeting at KSO Moreh office complex on July 29 and resolved to ban transportation of medicines until a pharmacist association is formed. The meeting was held after a complaint was made by the pharmacists to KSO alleging that 20 Assam Rifles at Tengnoupal gave free passage to few individuals who transported medicines in large quantities and prohibited other pharmacists from ferrying even two or three boxes of medicine.

The meeting resolved to form an All Moreh Pharmacists’ Association under KSO Moreh block at the earliest and transportation of the medicines should be done only after obtaining prior approval from the association and KSO Moreh block; to ban transportation of medicines until the association is formed; no other association or organisation or any trade body is allowed to transport the medicines; all the pharmacies including wholesalers should submit the list and quantities of medicines and stock register will be maintained by KSO Moreh block; and license or permit should be seized by KSO or fine will be imposed if any pharmacist is found violating the agreed points and if any pharmacist (license/permit holder) is found smuggling medicines to Myanmar, reports added.

AIMS for Humanitarian Aid to Myanmar

The Apunba Imagi Machasing (AIMS) on July 30 urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene by providing emergency relief materials, including medicines and oxygen cylinders, as a humanitarian aid to the neighbouring country.

Raising serious concerns over the Covid situation in Myanmar which is grappling with unabated rise in new positive cases and deaths due to the pandemic, in a letter addressed to the prime minister, AIMS stated that the number of COVID cases has exploded in Myanmar. The country is battling an acute shortage of medical oxygen as COVID-19 has spread rapidly, it stated. Further, the health system is on the verge of collapse due to strikes by doctors and nurses who have joined a nationwide civil disobedience campaign against the military that seized power.

India’s northeast ethnic communities who have settled in the neighbouring country, Myanmar are also begging for support to combat the massive spike in daily COVID-19 cases of the oxygen supply crisis, the letter said.

Human Rights Watch on Myanmar Asylum Seekers

Indian authorities should immediately free all detained Myanmar asylum seekers, Human Rights Watch said July 28. The authorities should investigate the deaths of two women who had fled Myanmar and died in custody in Manipur state from Covid-19 in June 2021. Imphal Reviews of Arts and Politics also published about the two women in a story, “Fate of Myanmar Refugees in Manipur is Still Uncertain as State and Union Govts Still Do Not Have Policy to Deal the Crisis” on July 3.

Since Myanmar’s military coup on February 1, tens of thousands of Myanmar nationals have fled the country to escape the violent crackdown. Approximately 16,000 Myanmar nationals have crossed into India in the four bordering states – Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh, the media have reported. Those fleeing include parliament members, civil servants, military and police officials, and civil society and human rights activists. Most are in hiding, afraid of being arrested, reports said.

Reports quoted Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch as saying, “People from Myanmar fleeing threats to their lives and liberty should be offered a safe haven in India, not detained and deprived of their rights,”. She further said, “The Indian government should uphold its international legal obligations and work with the UN refugee agency to ensure prompt access to international protection mechanisms

In June, two women from Myanmar, Ma Myint, 46, and Mukhai, 40, died from Covid-19 in a district hospital in Manipur state. Ma Myint and Mukhai were among 29 Myanmar nationals arrested on March 31 under the Foreigners Act for entering the country without valid travel documents. They were later placed in judicial custody by the district court. On July 2, the Manipur-based group Human Rights Alert wrote to the state human rights commission alleging that government officials were not providing immigration detainees with food and adequate health care, and that detainees were dependent on the charity of local civil society groups for food, reports added.

MACS Media Fellowship

The Manipur State AIDS Control Society (MACS) on July 25 announced that eligible journalists based in Manipur can apply for a six-month media fellowship to write and publish news reports on HIV and AIDS.

The release stated that the duration of the fellowship will be of six months i.e. from September 2021 to February 2022. Two selected fellows will receive stipend of Rs 50,000 only to support research, travel and writing in two instalments.

The last date of submission will be August 7 and the selection of applicants will be done by a jury of MACS officials, MACS release stated.

For queries, interested journalists contact assistant director (Documentation and Publicity) Phanjoubam Lanngamba Meitei, Manipur State AIDS Control Society, New Secretariat, Western Block Annexe, Room No 117 at 9856086085 or email at [email protected], it added.

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