Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

Myanmar delegates leaving Moreh after discussions with Indian counterparts

India and Myanmar Talks to Reopen Namphalong Not Decided Yet; Two-Day Assembly Session Adjourned; RTI Activist Joykumar Sent Case; VDF Premananda Found Dead

The Regional Border Cooperation meeting between the authorities of India and Myanmar ended without any significant decision on February 2, 2023. The meeting began from January 30 at IGAR (South) Complex, Mantripukhri in Imphal.

The 20-member Myanmar delegates who were here in Imphal, the capital city of India’s Northeastern State of Manipur at IGAR (South) Complex, Mantripukhri left for Myanmar on February 3.

Reports said that during the Regional Border Cooperation meeting, issues of narcotic drug smuggling from Myanmar to India along the Indo-Myanmar borders was discussed. The Indian side also reportedly put up issues about the problem faced by India due to influx of large number of Myanmarese to Indian territories in the aftermath of the conflict arisen between the Myanmar militaries and Myanmar’s ethnic defence forces.

The meeting also urged the Myanmar authority to reopen the border trade by opening the Namphalong Market, which the Myanmar government reportedly gave no green signal.

After the meeting, the 20-member Myanmar delegates were flown to Moreh helipad by three Indian Air Force Helicopters, MI-17 from IGAR (South) Mantripukhri in Imphal. Later a team of 5 Assam Rifles guarded the Myanmar delegates till Indo-Myanmar Friendship Bridge.

The Myanmar delegates were led by Major General Than Htiko, Colonel Nyi Nyi Tin, Lieutenant Colonel Aung Tin Win, Lieutenant Colonel Aung Zaw Myint and Captain Aung Toe, reports added.

Two-Day Assembly Session Adjourned

The two-day third session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly started from February 2 with Manipur Governor La Ganesan highlighting the various developments and achievements of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in the state has been adjourned sine die on February 3.

On the opening of the two-day third session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly, addressing the House, Manipur Governor La Ganesan said that the law-and-order situation and security environment in the state has improved significantly in the year 2022. As many as 75 insurgents surrendered, 309 extremists were arrested and various arms, ammunition and others recovered in the previous year, he said.

The Governor also said the state government and the Central government have entered into a cessation of operation agreement with the underground outfit Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF) that has been active for more than a decade.

With the improvement in the security scenario in the state, the governor informed the House that 15 police stations in six different districts of the state have been excluded from the disturbed area notification with effect from April 1, 2022. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act has been revoked from these areas, La Ganesan added.

La Ganesan said for more improvement in law and order in Manipur, the Central government approved construction of 34 Police Outposts along the India-Myanmar International Border and six police outposts along the National Highway-37 (Imphal-Jiribam road) with a cost of Rs 80.40 crore under the Scheme for Special Assistance to States. Of these, construction of 12 border police outposts and three police outposts along the NH-37 are in progress.

The Governor also said that to root out the menace of illegal drugs and to protect the youth, the government is continuing its fight against drugs under the initiative of ‘War on Drugs 2.0’.

In 2022, 3,517 acres of illicit poppy cultivation were destroyed in different areas of the state and 2,567 kg of contraband drugs were disposed of. Over 2,384 kg of drugs consisting of heroin, brown sugar, opium, amphetamine, ganja, methamphetamine, spasmo proxivon and nearly 40,000 bottles of cough syrup were seized. A total 504 cases were registered under the NDPS Act and 32 persons were convicted. In all, 84 persons were detained under PIT NDPS Act, Manipur Governor La Ganesan told the house.

Besides these, the Governor also highlighted various devlopments and achievments of as many as 29 different departments of the BJP-led government.

On the second and concluding day of the third session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly on February 3 passed the Manipur Panchayati Raj (eighth amendment) Bill, 2023 and tabled as many as 11 papers which includes three from the Finance department and eight from the Power department.

MPCC Moves 16 Amendments to Governor’s Address

During the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on Governor’s address moved by Minister Sapam Ranjan and seconded by Minister Awangbou Newmai, as many as 16 amendments were moved by three opposition MLAs namely, Keisham Meghachandra, Thokchom Lokeshwar and Kangujam Ranjit.

However, the motion of thanks to the Governor’s address was adopted by the Houses after chief minister Nongthombam Biren made certain clarification on the 16 amendments.

The Chief Minister said that the Governor’s address is just a hint of the development undertaken by the state government so that the content is not voluminous. Stating that the Governor took nearly 1.20 hours to recite the address, he said it may even take three hours if all the details are inserted.

The amendments moved by Congress MLA K Meghachandra pointed out that the Governor’s address fails to mention the status of the accused arrested in connection with drug cases, raise of tax but lack of job creation, detailed implementation process of PMKSY, details of PMGSY works not matching with ministry website among others.

Replying to the move for amendment by Meghachandra, the Chief Minister clarified that the investigation is underway for those not yet convicted and who were arrested in connection with drug cases and stated that introducing startups and new tourist destinations is indeed an act of employment generation.

Regarding PMKSY and PMGSY, Chief Minister Biren said that payments were done to farmers through DBT which is transparent and the delay in updating may be the reason for fluctuation in the details and numbers of PMGSY.

Regarding the move by K Ranjit for inclusion of all the 60 MLA as warriors of War on Drugs mission, the Chief Minister promised to pass the matter in a private member resolution in the upcoming Budget Session of the Assembly. Elaborating on the War on Drugs, Chief Minister Biren further informed that the use of drones and remote satellite sensing is a big achievement in reaching out to every nook and corner to search for any poppy plantation. The government had also started procuring new and efficient vehicles for police especially in the hills, he added.

Meanwhile, a complaint for breach of privilege was also submitted to the Speaker by opposition MLA K Meghachandra, reports added.

RTI Activist Joykumar Case

RTI activist Advocate Wahengbam Joykumar has been remanded to judicial custody for 15 days for his alleged involvement in the murder case of Laishram Rameshwor, convener of the Bharatiya Janata Party Manipur, Ex-Servicemen Cell on January 23.

Wahengbam Joykumar, 52, son of late Wahengbam Biramu of Wangkhei Hijam Leikai was arrested from his residence on January 28 in connection with the investigation of the murder case of Laishram Rameshwor.

Reports said Joykumar was produced before the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Thoubal by the IO of the case after completion of police custody period on February 2. Through an APP, the IO submitted that Wahengbam Joykumar was arrested as a part of the further investigation of the murder case taken up by Thoubal police station.

On analysis of the CDR record of main accused Ayekpam Keshorjit, it was found that just after committing the crime, Ayekpam Keshorjit frequently contacted W Joykumar and on examination, Joykumar revealed that he is an RTI activist and closely associated with Ayekpam Keshorjit who is also an RTI activist, the submission of the IO mentioned.

Joykumar disclosed that he along with Keshorjit filed RTI applications to different departments in order to find faults/loopholes in their functioning and blackmail the departments to pay them money, the IO alleged in his submission, reports added.

Recruitment Results Soon

Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren February 3 said that the pending results for as many as 1,718 regular posts for recruitment in 19 different departments undertaken during 2012-13 to 2022-23 will be declared soon.

Chief Minister Biren was responding to a starred question regarding the pending recruitment results raised by Congress MLA Okram Surjakumar on the floor of the House during the 3rd session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly.

According to his reply, the total number of recruitment results pending for contractual posts is 2,738 for 16 different departments.

Supplementing the starred question, Surjakumar stressed the urgent need for sanctioning the vacant post of Health and Education sectors such as the vacant post of DM University which cannot be compromised as it concerns the academic career of the students.

Chief Minister Biren assured that the government will be giving priority and emphasis to some essential departments such as Health and Education in declaring the results.

Regarding the Manipur Staff Selection Commission (MSSC) Act passed by the House last year, Biren stated that the government acknowledges the importance for urgent functioning of MSSC as it will bring transparency in recruitment process. He further said that all due process is completed and assured the functioning of the commission within two-three months, reports added.

VDF Premananda Found Dead

The VDF personnel Ningombam Premananda who was reported missing while attending duty to destroy illegal poppy plantations around Phaisi village under Chakpikarong Police Station in Chandel district was found dead on February 3.

Ningombam Premananda, 37, son of Ningombam Dina from Thoubal Okram Leikai had been missing since the intervening night of January 21 and 22. He bears VDF No.706. VDF Ningombam Premananda who was a part of a poppy destruction team that was camped at Urantop hillside under the Chakpikarong police station of Chandel district, near India-Myanmar border.

The search was launched for the second time on February 2 morning inside the forest of Phaisi village by a strong, combined force of 130 personnel led by additional SP Thoubal Wangkhomba and additional SP Chandel Amarjit, only after the JAC of Missing N Premananda imposed an indefinite bandh along the National Highway-102 Imphal-Moreh stretch of Asian Highway-1. Premananda’s body was found at noontime at M Lebanon village under Chakpikarong Police Station, reports said.

On February 3, the body is kept at M Lebanon village, and a team of State Forensic Science Laboratory and magistrate team would arrive on February 4 morning to examine. Later the dead body was brought to the mortuary of JNIMS Hospital, reports added.

It may be mentioned that JAC of Missing N Premananda had imposed an indefinite bandh along NH-102 in Thoubal area since the midnight of January 31. Demanding the state government for a thorough investigation into the disappearance of VDF personnel Ningombam Premananda in Chandel district, Manipur, the JAC along with various groups on February 1 blocked the National Highway-102 connecting Imphal and Moreh. The protesters, however, withdrew the blockade on November 1 for five days, saying the road blockade would continue if the government failed to act on the matter.

However, the JAC representatives agreed to withdraw the protests till February 5, after the meeting with Manipur Works Minister Govindas Konthoujam.

Big Conspiracy Behind Missing VDF Personnel, MPCC Alleges

Earlier on February 1 before Premananda’s dead body was found, the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) alleged a big conspiracy behind the disappearance of VDF personnel, who was a part of the poppy destruction team camped at the India-Myanmar border in Chandel district.

The incident has demoralised the other personnel who are actively participating in the War on Drugs, as the disapperance of a security personnel in full uniform, who was camping with his team, is suspicious, MPCC vice-president Loitongbam Tilotama told the media at Congress Bhawan in Imphal. She said the general view of the VDF being attacked by wild animals will not be a genuine conclusion, as there was no sign of any footprints of wild animals near the camps.

Pointing out the possibility of the missing personnel being nabbed by a group for certain reasons, she questioned, “Is there any such hidden incident where the government is unable to retaliate due to the group being far more powerful than the state government?”

Decrying the report of no immediate stern action to search and rescue the missing personnel, Tilotama said that the government should not work as per the ranks in such cases as all human lives matter, reports added.

Pointing out that there is nothing that a government cannot do if they intend to do so, she called on the state government to let the public be aware about the steps and the progress taken up so far to trace the missing VDF personnel, reports said.

Lamjingba Group Managing Director Sent to Judicial Custody

Lamjingba Group’s Managing Director Sanasam Jacky has been remanded by the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Imphal West in 15-day judicial custody till February 13 for detailed investigation. The Chief Judicial Magistrate of Imphal West has remanded Sanasan Jacky who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case linked to a ponzi scheme through which 15,000 investors were duped of their investments to the tune of Rs 580 crore.

During the hearing of judicial custody by the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Imphal West, the special public prosecutor (SPP) submitted that during the ED custody from Kanuary 21-24, voluntary statements of the accused was recorded U/S 50 of PMLA Act, 2002 from January 21 to 30 and he admitted his direct involvement in commission of the offence of money laundering punishable under section 4 of rge PMLA 2002.

From the statement, it is necessary to record the statements of other co-accused. It is also submitted that the accused was found in possession of several assets, both movable and immovable, which were derived from proceeds of crime (POC) as defined under section 2(1)(u) of PMLA. These assets, which constitute POC, are required to be secured and confiscated. Thus, sufficient time is required for proper verification and physical identification of those assets, it stated.

After hearing the submissions, the court stated that it appeared that more detail investigation was required and that many incriminating materials were yet to be recovered and that the submission of the SPP that if the accused is not remanded in judicial custody, would jeopardise the entire investigation and that there is possibility of him tampering those evidences or innocent witnesses as the investigation was critical and complex, appeared to be reasonable ground to allow the prayer. Therefore, Jacky was remanded in judicial custody, reports added.

State CPI Hits Out at Union Budget 2023-24

The Manipur State Council of Communist Party of India (CPI) has hit out at the The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Government over the Union Budget tabled at the floor of Parliament on February 1, stating that the budget utterly disregards the impoverished and unemployed section of the country’s population.

Speaking to the media at the Irawat Bhawan in Imphal on February 2, former state CPI Secretary L Sotinkumar stated that the Union Budget reflects favouritism for the rich elites while completely sidelining the grievances of the remaining population.

Highlighting the drastic 50 per cent cut in fertiliser subsidy compared to the last Union budget, Sotinkumar added that the total MGNREGA budget also took a hit, slashing 33 per cent compared to its predecessor. Even with the price cut on television and smartphones, the budget fails to present the same on petroleum products, cooking gas and other essential commodities, he stated.

Sotinkumar also pointed out the absence of a proper employment policy and added that the budget will usher in little to no change for the diverse nation, reports added.

‘Save Nambul, Save Loktak’ rally

A Pony Rally was flagged off from All Manipur Polo Association Ground, Iroisemba by state PWD Minister Govindas Konthoujam on February 1 as part of the World Wetland Day celebration and under the theme “Save Nambul, Save Loktak”.

The Loktak Development Authority (LDA) was organising a two-day celebration of World Wetland Day, which falls on February 2.

Addressing the gathering, Govindas stressed on ecological imbalance impact on human beings and called for planting more trees. To maintain solid waste management, he urged against throwing waste on the road while driving. He also assured of developing the oldest polo ground of Iroisemba and KRYPHSA ground of Naoremthong, reports said.

MPCC Celebrates Bharat Jodo Yatra Completion

The Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) on January 30 joined the celebration on successful completion of the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by All India Congress Committee (AICC) leader Rahul Gandhi. The yatra covered 12 states and two union territories, stretching over 4,000 km over a span of five months. The MPCC also commemorated the 75th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at Congress Bhawan in Imphal.

As a part of both the celebration and commemoration, working MPCC president T Manga Vaiphei unfurled the Tri-colour, which was followed by singing of the national anthem by the women volunteers of MPCC.

The MPCC working president accompanied by MLAs Thokchom Lokeshwar and Kangujam Ranjit also led the floral tribute paid to Mahatma Gandhi at the Congress Bhawan.

Speaking on the occasion, Vaiphei pointed out that the support received during the Bharat Jodo Yatra from various political parties and especially the general public is indeed a big achievement for the Congress party. Launched with a mission to protest against the “politics of hatred, intimidation, prejudice and failures of the BJP government,” he said the historic yatra successfully brought India together, besides strengthening the party.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra, which started from Kanyakumari on September 7 last year concluded in Srinagar on January 30. The grand finale of the yatra at Srinagar was also attended by CLP leader Okram Ibobi, CWC member G Gaikhangam and MPCC President Keisham Meghachandra, reports added.

Woman Drug Peddler Arrested

A team of Churachandpur police arrested a woman selling illegal drugs and seized 2935 grams of suspected opium, 3700 grams of suspected poppy seeds and around 7 grams of suspected brown sugar from her possession.

Reports said police received a tip-off about a huge quantity of opium being sold at the residence of one Kimneithiem, 43, wife of Soithianlal from Ginkhochin Veng, Churachandpur headquarter at 2 pm on February 2.

A team of Churachandpur police along with women police personnel rushed to the residence at 3.10 pm and found Kimneithiem along with four children. A requisition was made to the Churachandpur district magistrate (DM) for deputing one EM for conducting a house search, following which Churachandpur sub-deputy collector (SDC) Jangminlien Lupho arrived at the spot, reports added.

On searching the house, the team found one sack containing three packets of suspected opium weighing 2935 grams, 3700 grams of suspected poppy seeds and 7 grams of tobacco cans containing suspected brown sugar. The police team also seized Rs 70,730 cash, which is suspected to be the proceeds from the sale of drugs, one mobile phone (Oppo) along with Kimneithiem’s Aadhar card at 4.15 pm, reports added.

Bomb Blast At Fashion Show Venue

A hand grenade exploded at the site where a fashion show was going to be held on February 5, Hapta Kangjeibung, Palace Compound in Imphal East under Porompat police station. The incident occured at around 6:10AM on February 4.

As there was no body at the time of expolsion, no casualties reported, and no insurgent group has claimed responsibility yet till the time of filing this story. However, reports said that an insurgent group has warned the organisers not to organise the Fshion Show with Indian porn star Sunny Leone as show stopper.

The fashion parade is being organised by House of Ali to promote handloom khadi and tourism in Manipur, reports added.

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