Omicron cases in Manipur rose to seven as six more people tested positive for the new COVID-19 variant as reported on January 14 by the State Health Services Department.
Of the six new Omicron cases, one is a female returnee from a foreign country and another male is a visitor to Manipur. The rest are close contact while the visitor has already left the state.
However, all the Omicron cases have completed their mandatory isolation period and have been discharged with RT-PCR negative reports, and tracing of close contacts and containment measures are already in place and cross notifications have been sent, a release from the state COVID-19 common control room stated.
Drivers’ Day Observed
Recalling the incident of January 14, 1990, All Manipur Road Transport Driver’s and Motor Worker’s Union (AMRTDMW) observed Drivers’ Day this year too in remembrance of brave drivers who staged a protest at Koirengei airfield on the said date against the atrocities committed against innocent drivers along the then National Highways 39 and 53, now NH-2 and NH-37 respectively.
Drivers and handymen driving commercial vehicles transporting essential commodities for the people of Manipur along the two National Highways have been facing many issues such threats from armed miscreants along the national highways. Many innocent drivers and assistant drivers including handymen were killed in connection with monetary demands and illegal taxes collected by armed militants mostly now under ceasefire or suspension of operation with the Government of India.
It may be mentioned, to stop discrimination and issues against drivers including those driving highway goods vehicles, they launched an agitation on January 14, 1990 at Koirengei Old Airfield. Since then, the day is being observed as Driver’s Day every year on January 14. This year, the 33rd Driver’s Day was at Iboyaima Shanglen, Palace Compound in Imphal.
AMRTDMW Secretary Maimom Anil said 287 drivers passed away. He further narrated about the untoward incident which occurred in June 1994 wherein a handyman, who was also a student, was mercilessly killed in Zubza in Nagaland.
Anil also appealed to every section of society to stop harassing, threatening and taking ransom from drivers or handymen and rather extend love and compassion as the service rendered by them is not an easy task, reports added.
Churachandpur Police seized over 2 kg of substance suspected to be illegal opium from a residence at New Boljang Village in Churachandpur after receiving a tip-off on January 13.
Reports said that after receiving a reliable information about the presence of the illegal items, a team of Churachandpur police, including women police personals and FST-1 team conducted a search and the seize, in and around the residence of 65-year-old Ngamkhojang Haokip alias Angam, son of late Hemkholun Haokip at New Boljang Village.
In the search and seizure, the team appropriated suspicious items alleged to be opium, including 495 grams of substance packed in ‘Everyday Salt’ package; 208 grams of suspicious items packed in ‘Everyday milk powder’ package; and 1397 grams of suspicious items packed in ‘Golden Khaini’ cans, reports added.
35 Acres of Poppy Fields Destroyed
Around 35 acres of poppy cultivation on the hill range of Machi village in Tengnoupal district was destroyed by a combined team of Tengnoupal district police, NAB, NCB and 8 Manipur Rifles on January 12.
Reports said the destruction drive of poppy plantation drive was carried out under the overall supervision of Superintendent of Police, Tengnoupal. The combined team destroyed poppy plants which would yield about 350 kg of poppy. A case with FIR No. 1(1)2022 MCI PS u/s 18(b) ND&PS Act has been registered at MCI Police Station.
BJP Workers Killed in Samurou, MHRC Takes Suo-Moto
Two persons said to be BJP workers of Manipur Agriculture Minister Oinam Lukhoi were shot at by unidentified persons at Samurou near Machu Cinema Hall under Wangoi Police Station in Imphal West at about 10.00pm on January 9. The two injured were rushed to separate hospitals in Imphal, but both succumbed to their injuries.
The deceased have been identified as Abujam John and Abujam Sashikanta. They are said to be cousins. John was rushed to Advance Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries around 10.30 pm on the night of January 9. Abujam Sashikanta passed away around 5 am on the next morning after undergoing an operation at Raj Medicity, reports said..
Reports said John was an active BJP worker of Agricultural Minister Lukhoi, while Sashikanta was a Havildar of IRB and attached with the Special Commando Unit. Both are related, the sources said.
Reports quoting John’s wife Bimo, 56, said that her husband had left the house around 8.40 pm after taking dinner. After a while, she also came out at their gate and stood there for some time. She could see John and Sashikanta standing on the other side of Mayai Lambi Road and having a conversation. However, the area they were standing was poorly lit and dark. After sometime, out of nowhere, a man of short height suddenly went towards them and she could hear gunshots fired three times. The man fled from the spot immediately.
Demanding justice for those who were killed in the incident, a joint action committee was formed in an emergency meeting at the complex of New Young Sporting Club, Samurou.
Meanwhile, the Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) on January took up suo-moto under section 12 of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 in connection with the Samurou killing incident to ensure rights to life and personal liberty of the citizens of the state, particularly the villagers of Wangoi AC.
The MHRC has also directed DGP, Manipur to submit the report of action taken within three days.
Prosecution Sanction Against Four Accused Major Shaiza Killin
Special Secretary (DP), Government of Manipur had sanctioned prosecution against four accused persons in connection with fake encounter case of Major Shaiza and others in 1998.
Reports said, among the eight accused charge-sheeted by the CBI, the prosecution was sanctioned against Th Krishnatombi (the then SI); Khundongbam Inaobi (the then constable); Md Akhtar Hussain (the then constable); Thangkhongam Lungdim (the then constable) for offences punishment under section 302, 307, 201 and 34 IPC. However, the remaining four accused persons namely Nongmaithem Rameshwor (the then constable driver); Baremron Khamjai (the then constable); Leitanthem Sharat (the then constable); Khundrakpam Ranjeet (the then constable) under section 201 read with 34 IPC is still awaited.
The CBI had submitted the chargesheet on April 22, 2020, under sections 302, 307, 201, 34 IPC before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal West. At the time of the chargesheet and supplementary chargesheet, the sanction for prosecution under section 197 CrPC against all the accused persons was awaited.
It should be mentioned that among the accused persons, Ginkhanlel Vaiphei (constable) and Naorem Rajen (SI) of the same RAPF/CDO Imphal West team died but the investigation continued against the remaining commando personnel.
A team of Manipur Police commandos led by then Sub Inspector Th Krishnatombi allegedly killed five innocent persons viz. Major Shimreingam Shaiza of Ukhrul, Rukhoshele of Nagaland, Tusovehu Chakeshang of Nagaland, Kikheto Sema of Nagaland, and Hidam Budha of Kwakeithel in an alleged fake encounter in broad daylight on August 29, 1998.
The Special Counsel for CBI submitted the file of prosecution sanction on January 10 before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal West. The court has taken up cognizance against the four accused of offence under section 302 IPC read with 34 IPC and issued summons on four accused, to be returnable on February 14. The court kept the four accused persons who have no prosecution sanction in abeyance, reports added.
MPCC Alleges PWD of Rs 800 Cr Misappropriation
The Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) has alleged that an amount of Rs 800 crore have been misappropriated under the Public Works Department of the Government of Manipur. It urged the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take up a suo-moto case and investigate the case in the interest of the public.
During a press conference held at Congress Bhawan, BT Road on January 11, MPCC working president K Meghachandra alleged that the present government has failed to take up developmental works marked for this financial year before the imposition of the election Model Code of Conduct (MCC).
The MPCC president said MCC came into execution in the state from January 8. However, works to be done under plan money worth Rs 500 crore and non-plan money costing Rs 300 crore approved by the department has not been taken up yet. The total amount was earmarked during the Manipur Assembly session with an objective to bring developmental infrastructure in all the constituencies of the state, reports added.
The finance department also claimed that not a single penny is left for both plan and non-plan money while trying to get the expenditure sanction, the MPCC President said, adding that it is highly questionable as to where all amount has gone. With the imposition of MCC, departmental enquiry or independent judicial inquiry or any agency can’t conduct investigation for the said ‘financial scam’. In the interest of general public, CBI should take up suo-moto about the misuse of large amount of fund, he suggested.
Works Minister Refutes Congress Allegations
Manipur Works Minister Thongam Biswajit on January 13 refuted the allegations of misappropriating funds to the tune of Rs 800 crore and called Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Keisham Meghachandra ignorant of the state budget despite being present at the state budget discussion.
Speaking to the media during a press conference at the conference hall of his office quarter located at Sanjenthong, Imphal East on January 13, he said that there was no such scam during the tenure of the present government and the allegations are baseless.
Reports quoting Biswajit said he can issue a detailed report in black and white from the concerned department instead of making baseless allegations to get political mileage.
He further refuted the allegation that the works to be done under the in-plan budget money worth Rs 500 crore and non-plan budget money costing Rs 300 crore approved by the department has not been taken up yet. Before making any allegations concerning the budget, Meghachandra should know the details of the annual budget for the department which has already been published after it was discussed on the assembly floor, he said.
BJP Files Complaint Against AICC, MPCC For Violating ECI Guidelines
The Manipur Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has filed a complaint on January 10 addressing the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Manipur and District Election Officer, Thoubal against the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) for violation of Election Commission of India directives by conducting mass rally at Wangjing Tentha and Khangabok Assembly Constituencies in Thoubal district on January 9.
Reports said the State BJP General Secretary P Premananda Meitei told media in Imphal on January 10 that ECI has scheduled the poll date on January 8 and had directed all political parties that no physical meeting, road show, procession, cycle/bike/vehicle rally will be allowed till January 15. However, AICC/MPCC organised a one-day membership enrolment drive with a huge rally on Sunday, violating the ECI guidelines as published by CEO, Manipur. The rally was held at Wangjing Tentha and Khangabok assembly constituency in the presence of AICC, in-charge, Manipur, Bhakta Charan Das; Loitongbam Tilotama Devi; Anwar Hussain and others along with other MPCC leaders and Block Youth Congress Committee, Premananda said.
Rich Tributes Paid to Maharaj Gambhir Singh
Manipur paid rich tributes to Maharaj Gambhir Singh on his 188th death anniversary with the main observance being organised by the state art and culture department at Maharaj Gambhir Singh Samadhi Complex at Canchipur on January 9.
Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren led the ministers, MLAs, MPs, government officials, and the general public in offering floral tributes to the memorial and portrait of the late king, who spearheaded the war against Awa (Burmese) to end the ‘Seven Years of Devastation’ in 1826.
Speaking to the media, CM Biren urged the people for a peaceful, free, and fair election, mentioning that Manipur had experienced enough violence and unrest in the past. He also appealed not to indulge in violence and not let politics divide the people.
He said that the people of the current generation need to study the ideals upheld by the forefathers, who did not have any fear to lay down their lives for the motherland and adopt their patriotic feelings.
Manipur was occupied by Burma for seven years and in 1826, Maharaj Gambhir liberated Manipur from Burmese occupation of seven years with the launching of Manipur Levy of 500 personnel.
Meghen Says Manipur Still Not ‘Breathing Air of Freedom’
After paying floral tribute to the statute and tomb of Maharaj Gambhir Singh at Canchipur in Imphal on his 188th death anniversary, former Chairman of the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), RK Meghen on January 9 said that although Manipur became a part of independent India, the people of the state are not “breathing the air of freedom”, as there is a serious doubt on the survivability of the indigenous people of the state with their identity.
Meghen said that although there is a facade of development, the maximum populace of the state belongs to the economically weaker section, reports said.
Merely declaring independence is not enough, he said while adding that the people should be able to live peacefully and prosper. “And in our context, the people should be able to live with our identity’s dignity and pride”, he said. At present, these have not been fulfilled and added that the decision taken by the new generation will be crucial.
Reports further said, casting serious doubts on the consequences of connecting the state with the rest of the country through railway, he maintained that it will compound the already existing problem of migrant population influx in the state.
Meghen further said that January 9 is an important day in the history of Manipur as on this day in 1934, the British and Burmese rulers reached an agreement without the consent of Maharaj Gambhir Singh to lease Kabaw Valley to the Burmese. A decision on 22,210 square kilometres of Manipur’s land was taken without the consent of the King of Manipur. This was the beginning outsiders interfering in the affairs of Manipur, he added.
PLA Claims Killing Two Para Commandos
The Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), Manipur has claimed that two of its cadres were killed in a clash with the Indian Para Commandos in an attack that occurred in the morning on January 13. It also claimed that the PLA camp was attacked early morning by hired mercenaries along with the Indian 21 Para Commandos.
Reports quoting the PLA’s social media page Ningtam Paojel said that the attack was launched at around 6.00am of January 13 and across the Chandel district side bordering Myanmar. The PLA cadres also retaliated and eventually, there were several casualties on the side of the attackers, the PLA claimed. The group also said that the “attackers” were dispersed with the use of rocket launchers and lathode bombs and the skirmish ended at around 8.05 am.
As the PLA cadres started to trace the attackers, one person wearing para commando outfit along with an AK-47, one radio set, a map and other warlike stores were recovered from the deceased person. However, the PLA’s counter attack was also cut short as drones were used to carry out further attacks on them. However, it was confirmed that two para commandos along with two mercenaries were killed in the PLA retaliation and at least seven “attackers” suffered injuries, reports said.
Reports further said the para commando who was killed is also claimed as a major of the Chin National Army (CNA) as Major Nung Vung in the social media, it said. The PLA said that two of its cadres were killed by bomb splinters and they are identified as Chingangbam Koktummani alias Bishojit, aged 33 years and Khaidem Indramani alias Thoihenba, aged 33.
Ebendhou Imoinu Iratpa Celebrated
Meiteis within and without Manipur celebrated Ebendhou Imoinu, the goddess of social stability and prosperity on January 14. Ebendhou Imoinu Iratpa falls on the 12th day of Meitei lunar month of Wakching which normally falls during December-January of Gregorian calendar.
People were offering seasonal fruits and vegetables and fresh water fishes to please Ebendhou Imoinu at their homes. Celebration of Ebendhou Imoinu is also observed in some public places.
Pongal 2022 Celebrated In Manipur
Manipur’s border town Moreh witnessed the celebration of Post Harvest festival of Tamil’s Pongal celebration on January 14 at Sun Rise Ground, Moreh. The celebration held in Moreh for the 54th time was organised by Tamil Sangam Moreh with the participants from Tamil communities and other communities residing in the town
Pongal is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Hindu Tamils of South India. The celebration is marked with the worship of Hindu Sun God, thanking for agricultural abundance.
Meiteis and other communities in Moreh were invited to the Pongal festival held at Moreh, reports added.
Chakan Gaan Ngai
The Zeliangrong community of Manipur mostly Rongmei/Kabuis celebrated Chakan Gaan Ngai on January 15. Chakan Gaan Ngai festival starts on the 13th day of Wakching every year.
During the festival, the community offers thanksgiving to ‘Tingkao Ragwang’ (Supreme God) for the good harvest and pray for wellbeing in the coming year. Paying homage to the departed souls is also part of the festival.