Amidst the complaints from many political parties that the Kuki militants who are under the Suspension of Operation (SoO) with the Government of India (GOI) and Government of Manipur (GOM) threaten the voters not to support the political parties, the Kuki National Organisation (KNO) under which 17 Kuki militant groups come together has openly support all the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates.
Kuki militant groups which are under the Suspension of Operation (SoO) have openly announced support to all the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates in the ensuing 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election 2022.
In a release issued by KNO President, PS Haokip stated that the ongoing dialogue between KNO and the Government of India and ruling BJP leadership has promised swift settlement of Kuki political aspiration.
Union Home Minister, Amit Shah has also announced the same in a public address on February 23 at Churachandpur public ground, said PS Haokip.
Therefore, the KNO has resolved to extend support to all the BJP candidates for the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly election. KNO appeals to all the chiefs, Civil Society Organisation leaders, and all voters to support BJP candidates in all KNO operational areas, the release said.
The release further warned that any person or organisation acting contrary will be deemed acting against Kuki interest.
Meanwhile, T James of the United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF) stated it also resolved to extend full support to BJP candidates in Tengnoupal and Chandel Assembly Constituency for the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election. UKLF is a militant group under the United People’s Front (UPF) another umbrella body of the Kuki militants which is under the SoO with the Government.
The outfit appealed to all the village chiefs, CSO leaders and all voters to support BJP candidates in Tengnoupal and Chandel Assembly Constituencies in UKLF operational areas. The UKLF further warned that any person or organisation acting contrary to the appeal will be taken as against Kuki interest.
Notably, Union Home Minister Amit Shah who was on a one-day visit to Manipur for election campaign on February 23, assured to end the Kuki insurgency problem in the state if the BJP is voted to power for the second time in Manipur.
“If you help the BJP form government in Manipur again, I assure you that we will have deliberations with all rebel groups and bring peace in the hills,” Amit Shah said during an election rally held at public ground in Churachandpur. He was accompanied by Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, National leader Sambit Patra and other party leaders.
It may be mentioned that there are nearly 30 Kuki insurgent groups in Manipur and 25 groups are under tripartite Suspension of Operation (SoO) with the Government of India and Government of Manipur since 2008. Of this, 17 are under the umbrella group Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and eight under the United People’s Front (UPF). The tripartite talk has been going on since 2008.
Inter-District, Inter-State and International Borders Sealed Till March
The Governor of Manipur has ordered the immediate sealing of inter-district, inter-state and international borders of the state as a measure to prevent infiltration of any anti-social and disruptive elements that could disturb the smooth conduct of 12th General Elections to the Manipur Legislative Assembly.
The order, which comes into immediate effect from February 25, will continue till March 10, the day of counting.
As per an order from the Home Department, Government of Manipur (GoM), the order has come following the information of the Chief Electoral Officer, Manipur to the GoM to take measures to seal the borders to prevent infiltration of anti-social and disruptive elements for smooth conduct of the ensuing elections as per SOP for last 72 hours till counting issued by ECI.
The order also stated that a peaceful atmosphere is required to be maintained for smooth conduct of the elections scheduled to be on February 28, 2022 for Phase-1, March 5, 2022 for Phase-2 and counting on March 10, 2022.
The order further stated that check-points will be put up at strategic locations, that there will be checking of Lorries, light vehicles and all other vehicles to prevent infiltration of anti-social and disruptive elements.
PIL Filed Against AFSPA extension
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the High Court of Manipur for quashing the order extending “Disturbed Area” status in the state (excluding Imphal Municipal Areas), citing repeated violation of the rule.
Moreover, the PIL stated that the latest order for extension of “Disturbed Area” under Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 which was issued on December 8, 2021, is yet to publish in the official Gazette of Manipur.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice Muralidaran on February 24 listed the matter for hearing on March 31. The petition was filed by a Lawyer, Sanoujam Shyamcharan Singh represented by Advocate Rakesh Meihoubam.
Seeking a relief, the petitioner pointed out certain irregularities and as per Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, the notification for declaring an area to be Disturbed Area the same should be published in the Official Gazette and otherwise the notification cannot be given effect to.
In his petition, it is stated that he visited the office of the Directorate of Printing and Stationery, government of Manipur for obtaining a copy of the Gazette publication of the notification of December 8, 2021.
However, the notification was not published in the Gazette of Manipur. Further, the notification is to be given retrospective operation with effect from December 1, 2021 for a period of one year, which is against the established norms and against the legislative mandate and violation of the directive of the Supreme Court of India, it added.
The petition stated “that before upholding the constitutional validity of the Central Act, by the Supreme Court, the government of Manipur issued notification for the declaration of the disturbed area without any specific period of time. Although the Supreme Court has specifically directed that there should be periodic review of the declaration before the expiry of six months, the government of Manipur issued notification for declaring disturbed area status for one year after the expiry of earlier one every year without any break”.
Congress Party Will Safeguard Manipur’s Unique Qualities: Rahul Gandhi
Congress national leader Rahul Gandhi on February 20 assured the people of Manipur that the Congress party will always respect and safeguard the unique culture, history and languages of Manipur.
Rahul Gandhi was addressing a public rally at the Hatta Kangjeibung during his visit to Imphal as a part of the party’s campaign in the run-up to the Manipur Assembly elections 2022. He was accorded a warm welcome and honoured with a traditional headgear of Manipur, Ningkham Samji.
Unlike the BJP’s vision of “one ideology, one idea, one nation and one language which is superior to all,” the Congress believes India as “a union of state” as described in our Constitution, Rahul Gandhi said.
Moreover, the leaders of BJP and RSS come to the state with a sense of superiority and instigate the public to do what they think, added the Congress leader.
Failure to conduct the ADC election in the last five years’ tenure of the BJP-led government in Manipur is a clear example of snatching away the democratic structures and institutes from the people of Manipur, he alleged “How can the BJP claim that they are giving door step services to the public without empowering the people by conducting the ADC election?” he asked.
Moreover, the BJP is here to take over Manipur and destroy the future of its people by creating palm oil plantations, he said, explaining that it is not the people of Manipur who are going to benefit from it, but corporates like Patanjali will be benefitted. He contended that the Congress is not interested in helping people like Baba Ramdev (owner of Patanjali). The Congress is interested in protecting the people of Manipur and work for its development.
Congress Divided Manipur’s Hills and Valleys: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Manipur on February 22 to campaign for BJP candidates for the ensuing 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly elections amid tight security and the call for total shutdown by the CorCom, a conglomeration of PREPARK, PREPARK (Pro), RPF and UNLF.
Addressing an election rally at Luwangshangbam Sports Complex in Manipur Chief Minister’s Heingang Assembly Constituency in Imphal, the Prime minister said that the Congress leaders come to Manipur and make big claims but make fun of the dresses and culture of Northeast India in other states.
“Congress divided Manipur between hills and valleys and played politics over it. They never worked on developing and improving connectivity in the region,” the Prime Minister said.
PM Modi further alleged that the Congress never understood the problems and the feelings of the people of Northeast India. The NDA government, on the other hand, believes that the region is the growth engine for India, he added.
The state has witnessed several governments in the last few decades. After decades of Congress rule, Manipur had got only inequality. In the last five years, the BJP-led government has aimed to develop Manipur. You’ve witnessed BJP’s good governance as well as good intention, the Prime Minister said.
PM Modi alleged that the Congress had made bandhs and blockades the main feature of Manipur, while claiming that the BJP government has made the impossible possible. “Every region of Manipur has had relief from bandhs and blockades,” PM Modi said.
Ibobi Rebuts PM Modi’s Bandh Remark
Former Chief Minister and Manipur Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Okram Ibobi on February 22 slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks against the Congress party in his election rally speech in Imphal and asked whether the BJP government bargained with the militant groups over bandh and blockade issue for the last five years.
Modi alleged in his speech during his election rally for the BJP in Manipur on February 22 that the Congress party made bandhs and blockades the main feature of Manipur. He also claimed that the BJP government made the impossible possible by lifting the bandhs called within 48 hours. “Every region of Manipur has been relieved from bandhs and blockades,” Modi said.
Strongly rebutting Modi’s allegations and claims, Ibobi said, “We should ask Modi what he meant by saying bandhs and blockades have been lifted from every region of Manipur by the BJP government for the last many years… whether the BJP government bargained with militant groups for bandh and blockade for the last five years… is the BJP government together with anti-social and anti-national people?”
The state CLP leader was speaking at the reception programme of Paokholal Haokip of Saikot Assembly Constituency (AC), who joined the INC, supporting TN Haokip, who is the Congress candidate of Saikot AC on February 22, after resigning as BJP candidate of Saikot AC.
Jairam Ramesh Blasts Modi’s Speech
Taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his remarks against the Congress party in his BJP campaign speech in Imphal on February 22, All India Congress Committee (AICC) election observer Jairam Ramesh said in a Twitter post:
“The Jagadguru of Jhoot (Modi) was true to his nature”. He then identified seven points countering Modi’s speech in a series of tweet:
First, PM claimed full coverage when Manipur is among the worst in the country on vaccination rates. Only 47.6 per cent of eligible population have got double dose.
Second, PM claimed balanced development in Manipur and taking administration to the door. The truth is BJP govt has effectively shut the doors of the ADCs by not holding elections in the last five years. This is murder of democracy in the hills and the grassroots.
Third, PM claimed poor performance in the power sector under the Congress govt when the truth is his own govt gave a national award to the Congress government in 2015-16 for power sector reforms.
Fourth, PM claimed palm oil plantations will benefit Manipur’s farmers while the truth is it is the transfer of profits and farm lands to two-three big palm oil companies.
Fifth, PM made tall claims on bringing railways to Manipur. Truth is Congress govt completed more than 70 per cent of the project by 2017.
Sixth, Lastly why was the PM completely silent on fundamental issues of Manipur—AFSPA, MSP and irrigation for farmers, rising youth unemployment, price rise of essential commodities in Manipur much above national average, and rising drug trade from across the border?
Seventh, The truth is the people of Manipur are fed up with the double engine haijinbi govt of BJP in Delhi and Imphal. The mood of Manipur is clear.
“Come 10th March, it will be Bye-Bye, BJP!” he tweeted.
Two ITBP Personnel on Election Duty Injured at Wangoo
At least two personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) on election duty for the ensuing 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election 2022 sustained injuries in an RC-IED blast that took place at Wangoo in Kakching district late February 20.
Reports quoting the SP of Kakching district said the attack was done by RC-IED battery and wire, it was not a grenade or remote control attack. The incident occurred around 9 pm near a pharmacy in Wangoo Lupa Marup, Imphal-Sugnu road. The ITBP personnel were on routine patrol duty along the road stretch when the IED explosion took place. The RC-IED was triggered when the ITBP personnel was on routine patrol duty along the road stretch.
Reports said that the injured have been identified as Constable Girja Shankar, 30, and Constable Gourav Rai, 26, both from Uttarakhand. They were rushed to Jivan Hospital in Kakching, but were shifted to Shija Hospital, Imphal on February 21, and are out of danger.
CorCom’s Total Shutdown on PM’s Visit Cripples Normal Life
Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accorded a welcome by the members and supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Imphal Airport Roadside, the state wide total shutdown imposed by CorCom, a conglomeration of PREPARK, PREPARK (Pro), RPF and UNLF on February 22 as a part of boycotting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state crippled normal life in Manipur.
Despite the shutdown, decorative works were seen taken up in the morning en route from Imphal Airport to Luwangpokpa Multi-Sports Complex at Luwangshangbam in Imphal East in connection with the PM’s visit.
Shops and business establishments, including nationalised banks and petrol pump and educational institutional remained closed.
Reports said traffic flow on the roads was reduced compared to normal working days, but traffic jam was witnessed along the National Highway-2 between Sangakpham to Koirengei. The traffic jam was caused by the numerous supporters of BJP who came to listen to the PM’s speech.
CorCom boycotted the prime minister’s visit and imposed total shutdown stating that the PM is not coming to give independence to Manipur but to execute the usual agenda of extending the colonial rule of India by enslaving the people. The shutdown was imposed from 1:00 AM of February 22 till the prime minister left the state.
‘Stop Using Fake-Encounter Victims for Petty Political Gains’
The Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families Association (EEVFAM) and the Human Rights Alert (HRA) warned certain political parties and candidates contesting in the ensuing 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election to stop weaponizing fake-encounter victims struggling for human rights for petty political gains.
A statement issued by EEVFAM and HRA on February 23 stated, “It has come to the notice of the two organisations that certain political parties and candidates contesting in the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election are using the work of our organizations, particularly the PIL, Writ Petition No 129 of 2012 pertaining to the extrajudicial killing of 1,528 civilians, pending in the Supreme Court of India, and the plight of the victim families for their own cheap political propaganda. EEVFAM and HRA strongly condemn the weaponization of our human rights struggle for petty political gains”.
Although the BJP prominently highlighted the issue of fake encounters in the “Charge Sheet against the Congress Party” in the run up to the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election of 2017, the promise to investigate and punish the killers remains unfulfilled. In the last five years of its rule, the state government did not initiate a single criminal investigation on these cases, leave alone punishing them.
And even in the few investigations conducted by the CBI/SIT on the direction of the Supreme Court, the Union government denied prosecution sanctions against the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Union who are found to be involved in the killings of the innocent civilians, he statement further said.
Despite the initial enthusiasm of the present government, the call for initiating a Transitional Justice Process by institution of a Truth Commission to address the burning needs of the victim families remains silent till date. In fact all the efforts of the families to get some compensation under section 357 A of CrPC remains frustrated as the State’s Victim Compensation Scheme is not allocated sufficient funds.
Under such circumstances EEVFAM and HRA urged the upcoming government, irrespective of which party or coalition comes to power, to take the long sufferings of victims seriously and initiate prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigation of the remaining cases of extrajudicial killings not yet investigated; Promptly grant prosecution sanction under section 197 of CrPC and section 6 of the Armed Forces Special Power, 1958 against the security personnel found to be involved in the killings; Institute a Truth Commission in Manipur to bring out the whole truth behind the mass extra-judicial execution and to identify the needs of the victims who have suffered untold miseries with the aim of restituting their broken lives due to the unlawful act of the security forces, the statement urged.
RK Ranjan’s Helicopter Not Allowed to Land at Noney
The helicopter on which Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Education Dr. RK Ranjan was boarding for an election rally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate of Nungba Assembly Constituency, Dinganglung Gangmei aka Dipu Gangmei was not allowed to land at Noney on February 26.
Reports said, Union Minister of State Dr. RK Ranjan returned without attending the election rally of BJP candidate Dipu Gangmei as landing of his chopper on LFC ground was resisted allegedly by Congress supporters on the ground that the public were not informed in prior that the Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Education was coming to Noney.
However, the election rally of BJP candidate Dipu Gangmei was held without the Union Minister of State. Following the resistance of the Union Minister’s chopper landing tension between the Congress supporters and BJP supporters runs high, reports added.