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A Thabal Chongba in progress

Thabal Chongba Ban Due to Covid-19, Dr. Rajo’s Extension Hangs Fire, Big Benefits for Surrendered UGs

This year’s Yaoshang spirits have been dashed early by an announcement that the Thabal Chongba festival wouldn’t be allowed as part of Covid-19 precautionary measures. Also during the week substantial financial securities have been provided to surrendering cadres of armed groups in the state, while Dr. Rajo’s extension as Medical Director is still to be confirmed.


Govt Bans Thabal Chongba

The State government on March 10 announced that no activity involving person-to-person contact such as ‘Thabal Chongba’ or ‘Jatrawali’ shall be permitted, although ‘Yaoshang sports’ may be organised subject to observation of relevant SOPs.

The order issued by Chief Secretary Rajesh Kumar stated that the festivities of Yaoshang are likely to increase human interaction and physical contact which is not conducive to the second wave of COVID-19 infection being experienced in some states.

The chief secretary as chairperson of State Executive Committee of the State Disaster Management Authority, issued an order allowing various activities subject to strict adherence to prescribed Covid Appropriate Behaviour and Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Ministries of Government of India concerned and the additional conditions relating to gatherings, it stated. The said order was issued in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 20(2) (a) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, it added.

Meanwhile, the Manipur government has issued COVID-19 preventive measures to be followed during the Yaoshang festival.

The 15 Preventive Points are:

  1. Road blockade enforced, with or without ropes, for monetary subscriptions will not be allowed.
  2. Spraying or applying colours on others will not be allowed.
  3. Movement of overcrowded vehicles will not be allowed
  4. Four wheeler vehicles will carry only four persons
  5. Two wheelers can carry not more than two persons during Yaoshang
  6. Over-crowding of vehicles will not be allowed at oil pumps for refueling
  7. All forms of sports events that involve contact between people like three legged race, cock fighting, wrestling, boxing among others should not be organised
  8. Separate entry and exit points should be maintained in the entire sports arena
  9. All participants and spectators should wear face masks and maintain social distancing throughout the event.
  10. Sports organisers must ensure availability of hand washing facilities or hand sanitisers, face masks among others during the sports events
  11. Spitting is strictly prohibited in and around the playfield and workout areas
  12. All sports events/competitions/prize distributions will not be allowed after 6 pm on all days
  13. The size of the crowd or gathering should be restricted to a maximum of 100 persons at all times
  14. Every club or organising committee should have a dedicated COVID-19 Task Team to regulate the advisory during the event hours and display the COVID-19 emergency/helpline numbers which are 1800-3453818, 104 (Manipur Mental Health Helpline) and 0385-2414009
  15. During the torch lighting relay carried out to inaugurate the sports events, social distancing should be maintained and a maximum of 20 persons will be allowed inside Kangla for getting the torch.

HC not for Dr K Rajo’s Extension

A single bench of the High Court of Manipur consisting of Justice A Bimol on March 12 dismissed the review petition filed by the state government seeking the review of a High Court judgment passed on January 21 that quashed the extension order of Dr K Rajo, as medical director on contract basis after his retirement.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that engagement of a competent officer, who has retired from service on attaining the age of superannuation, on contract basis for a specified period due to exigency of service and in public interest is permissible, even if the relevant recruitment rule does not provide for such contract engagement.

The High Court of Manipur on January 21, 2021, quashed the engagement of Dr K Rajo, as the director of medical and health services, on contract basis. The court has further directed to appoint additional director (NHM) P Shyamsunder as director of medical and health services within two weeks.

It may be mentioned that the All Manipur Health Services Doctors Association (AMHSDA) earlier demanded immediate cancellation of the extension of Dr K Rajo Singh as director of Health services for six months after superannuation of his service. Dr. K Rajo was due to retire from his service on November 30 last. However, the state government extended his service for another six month.

CM Biren to Launch 200 projects

Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren on March 11 announced that around 200 projects will be inaugurated and the foundation stones will be laid for another 150 projects after March 15, a day when the ruling government completes its four years of governance.

Reports quoted Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren as stating this at the one-day panel discussion on National Education Policy, 2020 held at City Convention Centre, Imphal on March 11. The programme was organised by the department of education.

Speaking as the chief guest, he said that the present government is going to complete its four years of governance on March 15. The government is celebrating its 4th year of governance in the state on the said date to highlight the policies and programme and developmental projects they have taken up.  After the programme, all the completed projects of almost 200 in numbers will be handed over to the public by conducting a series of official inaugurations. Along with this, foundation stones will be laid for new projects.

Statue of Niranjan Subedar Unveiled

Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren unveiled a statue of Saheed Subedar Niranjan Singh Chhetri, one of the heroes of Anglo-Manipur War, 1891 and a confidant of Bir Tikendrajit, at Kanglatongbi in Imphal West district on March 7.

Subedar Niranjan was hanged to death by Britishers for his role in the war on June 8, 1891. He was initially a Sepoy in the 34th Native Infantry of the British Army. However, he left the Britishers to join the Army of Manipur kingdom. He was appointed as a Subedar by Bir Tikendrajit.

A book titled, ‘Saheed Niranjan Singh Chhetri, the Unsung hero of Anglo-Manipur (Khongjom) War, 1891’, authored by Ghanashyam Acharya and a booklet titled, ‘Sahid Subedar Niranjan Chhetry, Bharat Emagi Athouba Mapari’ by Ajit Das were also released at the occasion, reports added.

20 Cadres Surrender with Arms

A total of 20 cadres from four different proscribed organisations surrendered with arms before Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren during a homecoming ceremony held at the Banquet hall of 1st Battalion Manipur Rifles, Imphal on March 8.

Reports said that 16 of them are from Thadou People’s Liberation Army (TPLA) including its chairman, one each from PLA and PREPAK (Pro) and two from another proscribed organisation.

The cadres who surrendered during the homecoming ceremony handed over 15 arms and 75 assorted ammunition including one AK-56 Rifle, one M15 Rifle, one MK 33 Rifle, one Uzi SMG, one lethod gun, one Glock 19 pistol, six 9 mm pistols, two 0.32 pistols and one 0.22 pistol. The arms and ammunition were laid down before the chief minister, reports added.

Under the revised schemes, benefits given to them include a one-time financial grant of Rs. 4 lakh to each cadre, which is to be kept in a bank in their respective names as a fixed deposit for a period of three years. Incentives for surrendered weapons have also been provided. The surrendered militants will stay in a rehabilitation camp for three years during which they will be paid a monthly stipend of Rs. 6,000 during the period. With the coming of the BJP-led coalition government, about 80 militants have already surrendered to the government, the Chief Minister added.

AR Jawan Hurt in Grenade Attack

Unknown militants exploded a hand-grenade at the gate of Assam Rifles Transit Camp, near Minuthong on March 10 injuring a jawan.

The injured rifleman is identified as Bimal Rai of 43 AR, who sustained injury on his left arm. However, he is said to be out of danger. The rifleman was standing near the gate when the hand-grenade was hurled inside the gate by the suspected UG cadres.

Meanwhile, another bomb was found inside the campus of the Assam Rifles Transit Camp situated near Minuthong, in Manipur’s Imphal East district on March 12, two days after the earlier incident.

A proscribed insurgent outfit, People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) Progressive Group claimed the responsibility for the attack.

UKAL bans ‘Thabal Chongba’ in Lai Haraoba

Moreover, Umang Lai Kanba Apunba Lup (UKAL) also has imposed a ban on the inclusion of “Thabal Chongba” in the observance of Lai Haraoba festival in Manipur.

Reports quoting the convenor of UKAL, Mutum Maniton said action will be taken against any Lai committees who violate the protocol as imposed by UKAL during the observance of the ritualistic festival (Lai Haraoba).

During Lai Haraoba observance, there are certain ritual performances by Amaiba/Amaibi (priest) and Hao/Tangkhul Saba, which are not comfortable for the public to watch; stating this, the convenor also appealed to organising committees of Lai Haraoba to conduct such enactments in close door.

Reward to Thoubal Police

Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren on March 10 said that a sum of Rs 15 lakh will be rewarded along with CM’s commendation to the Thoubal police team who busted two brown sugar manufacturing units at Lillong Nungei Khunou Mamang Leikai.

Reports quoting Superintendent of Police Thoubal, S Ibomcha said that the police team could seize Heroin Brown Sugar powder (refined) weighing 505 grams, Opium-5 kg, Heroin Brown Sugar 1051.25 kg, around 131 litres of morphinated liquid, four bottles of one kg capacity each of ammonium chloride from one house, while from another house Heroin Brown Sugar 53/20 kg and Rs. 61,400 in cash were seized.

The police team also seized four vehicles which were suspected to be used in transportation of drugs.

24 Hour Shutdown over ADC Poll

A joint student body comprising Zomi Students’ Federation (ZSO) GHQ, Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO) Churachandpur, Hmar Students’ Association (HSA) Imphal Jt. Hq and Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), Manipur have decried the delay by the state government over Autonomous District Council (ADC) elections in Churachandpur, Sadar Hills, Senapati, Chandel, Tamenglong and Ukhrul.

The Zeliangrong Students Union Manipur (ZSUM) and Kuki Students Organisations of Jiribam, Tamenglong, Tengnoupal and Moreh also joined the 24 hour shutdown in the hill districts declared by All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM).

Accused in Poknapham Attack get Bail

The Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal West on March 9 released two women among eight accused who were arrested in connection with the hurling of a Chinese hand grenade at Poknapham office on bail on the execution of Rs. 50,000 PR bond each.

Reports said that the two namely, Heirankhongbam (O) Ibecha Devi, wife of H Romesh of Lairenjam Makha Leikai and Yumnam (O) Indubala Devi, wife of Y Thoithoi of Nambol Thongkha, Bishnupur were released on the ground of having no sufficient reasons to say that they are accused in the case.

The court order stated that on examining the materials on record in regard to the two accused, it is seen that they are women who are working hard to make their ends meet. The mere allegations that the two were being used by one accused namely Samir Khan from time to time is not sufficient enough reason to say that the accused are involved in the case, it stated.

The court has fixed March 18 to put up the bail prayer of the remaining six accused.

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