Nine persons dead and 38 injured in an accident of a study tour bus at Tubung Village of Nungshai (Longshai) Part-3 along Tongjei Maril, the Old Cachar Road under Khoupum Police station in Noney district on December 21.
The deceased persons included seven girl students, one female teacher and one male care taker of Thambalnu Higher Secondary School of Yairipok Top Chingtha in Imphal East.
One of the two buses carrying the students and teachers for annual study tour to Khoupum Valley skided off the mountainuous road and fell on the lower road turning the bus upside down. The tragic incident occurred at around 11.10 am which claimed the five lives at the spot and three succumbed at Bishnupur District Hospital which is 25 Km away from the site of the accident and one at a hospital in Imphal.
On hearing the news Health Minister Dr. Sapam Ranjan who was attending a function in Bishnupur district rushed to the site of the accident, reports said.
Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren paid visits to the injured persons who are being treated in the hospitals.
On hearing the tragic news, President Droupadi Murmu condoled the tragic incident and tweeted, “Saddened to learn about the accident of a school bus carrying children in Noney district of Manipur. The loss of precious young lives is distressing. My deepest condolences to the bereaved families. I pray for speedy recovery of the injured.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths in the tragic bus accident and tweeted, “Anguished by the loss of lives in Manipur’s Noney district due to a tragic bus accident. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. I hope the injured recover soon. The Manipur government is providing all possible assistance to those affected: PM @narendramodi”.
The Prime Minister also announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 Lakhs to the next kin of deceased and Rs. 50,000 to those injured in the bus accident from Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
Union Home Minister, Amit Shah tweeted: “Pained to learn about the loss of lives in a bus accident carrying school children in Manipur’s Noney district. My sincerest condolences to the bereaved families. May God give them the strength to bear this loss. Praying for the speedy recovery of those injured.”
Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren, speaking to the media at CM Secretariat in Imphal in the presence of Works Minister Govindas Konthoujam, Education Minister Thounaojam Basantakumar and Social Welfare Minister Heikham Dingo, announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the deceased of the tragic accident. He also informed that the state government will extend an aid of Rs 1 lakh each to the students who are seriously injured and Rs 50,000 each to the other injured students, while all the expenses for treatment will be borne by the government. He condoled the deceased of the tragic accident and offered prayers for speedy recovery of the injured victims.
Acknowledging the immediate response of the Longsai villagers in the rescue operation, the chief minister extended his gratitude to the villagers for their immense support in saving many lives.
Considering the fogginess in the hill districts from early morning till noon during this winter season, Biren informed that the state government had imposed an immediate ban on organising any sorts of academic excursion till January 10 of 2023, considering the safety of the students, reports added.
Of the deceased nine persons, seven girl students have been identified as Laishram Roma, Thangjam Chingkheilembi, Phanjoubam Rita, Moirangthem Dolly, Khonthoujam Menaliya, Laikhuram Bita and Loitongbam Naoton (Athoi) while the male teacher and female school warden have been identified as Sanasam Kishan and Yumnam Mitkhubi respectively.
The injured persons are hospitalised at Raj Medicity, RIMS and Advance Hospital in Imphal, reports added.
Governor Visits Accident Injured Persons
Manipur Governor La Ganesan on December 22 visited the students and teachers who were injured in the bus accident on December 21 at Tubung Village of Nungshai (Longsai) Part-III along Tongjei Maril, the Old Cachar Road in Noney district and enquired about their health conditions.
After the fatal accident, they have been admitted and undergoing treatment in Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) and Raj Medicity. Governor La Ganesan visited Raj Medicity and met all the injured students and teachers one by one and enquired about their health, a release stated.
According to Raj Medicity, of the total 32 injured who were admitted in the hospital, two expired on December 21, six are in ICU and eight in the medicine ward.
The Governor La Ganesan also visited RIMS, where he met all the injured students and inquired about their health, it stated. Hospital sources said, of the total seven casualties admitted on December 21, one is in ICU, three at Orthopaedics ward and three other in surgical ward and all of them are stable.
He met with the family members of the students and consoled them for their pain and sorrow. He expressed solidarity and prayed for speedy recovery. He acknowledged the doctors and hospital administration for their hard work and dedication, the release mentioned.
Village Chief Blames State Government for Accident
The place of tragic accident of the bus carrying school students for annual study tour bus accident on Tongjil Maril, the Old Cachar Road at Nungshai (Longshai) village area in Noney district is an accident-prone zone and the State Government failed to repair the road despite several complaints made, Nungshai Village Chief, Kabidon Gonmei said.
Speaking to the media at the Manipur Press Club in Imphal, Kabidon alleged that the Government has been neglecting the construction of the 5–6-kilometre downhill road stretch of Laimaton to Leimatak, which has caused several similar accidents in the past.
He said four labourers from Imphal and a water supply worker from the village died in a similar accident that occurred at the said stretch of road. Despite the villagers’ request to the state government for repairing the road, the Government remains a mute spectator. He also condoled the demise and extended prayer for speedy recovery of the injured students, reports said.
“We submitted letters to the chief minister last year, and also in July this year. But we have not seen any development despite the promises made before the 2022 election,” he said.
Meanwhile, Works Minister Govindas Konthoujam while attending press conference by the Chief at CM Secretariat in connection with accident refuted the allegation. He clarified that the blacktopping of the road stretch was in good condition, the issue is the sharp corner, reports added.
Massive Poppy Destruction Drive
Manipur police has destroyed large areas of poppy plantations across the state in December. They also arrested the chief of Thinghangjang village in Churachandpur district in illegal trade case.
A team of Kangpokpi district police led by its district SP and SP, NAB along with a team of 200 recruits from Manipur Police Training Centre (MPTC) and 1 Coy of Manipur Rifles and IRB conducted massive poppy destruction drive on the western hill range of Selsi village, Kangpokpi district. During the drive, seven huts used for keeping materials used in poppy cultivation including fertilizers, salt packets, herbicides along with materials were burnt down, police sources said.
The whole operation was conducted under the spot supervision of DGP, P Doungel; ADGP, law and order, L Kailun and IGP Zone I, Themthing Ngashangva.
Meanwhile, a team of Churachandpur district police, along with 1st IRB, conducted a mass poppy destruction drive in the forest area of Thinghangjang village, Churachandpur district. During the drive, around 65 acres of poppy plantation was destroyed and burnt down on the spot. The police also arrested an accused identified as one Kamsei Jaokip, 48, son of Otthang and chief of Thinghangjang village. A case has been registered in connection with the incident.
District police, Ukhrul along with 6th Manipur Rifles, NAB and Forest department have also destroyed around 80 acres of poppy cultivation in three different areas of the district in December.
The team destroyed around 20 acres of poppy cultivation at Ringui (Tungou) hill range on December 3 and 7; another around 20 acres of poppy cultivation at Champhung hill range on December 14 and 15; and over 40 acres of poppy cultivation at Champhung Tora hill range on December 20 to 22.
During the destruction drive, no poppy cultivators were found. However, a few individuals who were earlier residing at the hill range of Champhung-Tora have been identified, details of the land owner of the hill range were collected and verification of the same is going on, police said.
Kangpokpi district police along with NAB, forest department, Assam Rifles also destroyed about 10 acres of illicit poppy cultivation in Molkon and Phulaijang hill range under the jurisdiction of Saikul police station on December 23.
Four Personnel Suspended as Arrested Men in Poppy Plantation Case Escapes
Two village heads, who were picked up for taking statements in connection with widespread poppy cultivation at Selsi village in Kangpokpi district, Manipur, have escaped from Kangpokpi Police Station. Following it, the officer in-charge, a sub inspector and two VDF personnel have been suspended from their duties, reports said.
Selsi Village Secretary David Kipgen, 40, son of late Jangkhohao Kipgen and Vice Chairman Henkholun Kipgen, 62, son of late Khohen Kipgen were picked up for taking statements by summoning them after it was discovered that poppy was being widely cultivated amid green pea farms at Selsi village in Kangpokpi district. Selsi village is located at a distance of around 34 km west of Kangpokpi Police station on IT road.
It may be mentioned that in a video clip uploaded on social media, Chief Minister Biren was visibly upset and expressed his anger on finding that poppy was widely cultivated in the said area. He announced that village chiefs and secretaries who were found involved in poppy plantations will be given lifetime imprisonment. He further declared a war against poppy cultivators, regardless of whether they are armed or not.
Following Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren’s strong instructions against poppy cultivation, the village chairman, vice chairman, village secretary and members were summoned at Kangpokpi Police Station. They arrived at the Kangpokpi Police Station in the morning on December 22. The village secretary and vice chairman escaped around 7.45 pm in the evening on the same day, reports said.
Upon receiving information that the duo had fled teams of Kangpokpi district police and 4th IRB personnel launched a search operation at the possible routes of escape and the duo were apprehended again around 10 am on December 22, reports added.
Regarding their earlier escape, officer in charge Henminthang Kipgen of Kangpokpi Police Station, sub inspector SL Seiminthang, VDF personnel Paojamang and Thangjagin Chiru have been suspended from duties.
HC Sets Aside MLA Dipu Gangmei’s Resignation from IAS
Justice Muralidaran of the Manipur High Court set aside the resignation of Nungba MLA Dinganglung (Dipu) Gangmei (the then CEO-ADC of Tamenglong) from Indian Administrative Service, which was accepted by the Ggovernment of India and Government of Manipur.
The Manipur High Court also restored the closed vigilance case against Dipu Gangmei and directed it to investigate into the case and file a report before the competent authority for further action.
Following the HC judgement, the status of Dinganglung (Dipu) Gangmei as an MLA of Nungba Assembly Constituency is uncertain now as he has been reverted back to government service which automatically bars him from contesting as a candidate in state assembly elections. The ball now lies in the court of the State Governor and Election Commission of India to decide on his MLA status.
The Manipur High Court order came after the writ petition was filed by Alan Kamei to quash the order of January 11, 2022 issued by the Government of India, that accepted the resignation of Dipu Gangmei, Manipur cadre IAS with effect from November 15, 2021 in view of the vigilance integrity certificate and the vigilance inquiry closure report of November 29, 2021 in connection with the complaint/report lodged by him.
Alan Kamei lodged a complaint to SP Vigilance against Dipu Gangmei alleging that he as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Autonomous District Council (ADC), Tamenglong and in connivance with the other ADC members misappropriated certain funds amounting to several crores sanctioned to Tamenglong district.
In the complaint, it was alleged that Dipu Gangmei in his capacity had illegally awarded projects under the 14th Finance Commission to bogus work agencies and maliciously included the complainant’s name as one of the work agencies without his knowledge and consent.
It alleged that in connivance with the other ADC members misappropriated a sum of Rs 13 lakh by implicating Dipu as work agency corresponding to the work projects, namely development/maintenance of cremation ground/cemetery amount to Rs 10 lakh; construction of drainage/water storm drainage amount to Rs 3 lakh.
It also mentioned that the Manipur Lokayukta also took cognizance of the issue and Complaint Case Nos.3 of 2020 and 9 of 2021 in connection with the misappropriation of public fund amounting to Rs.18.02 crore without any work being executed in collusion with Dipu Gangmei, the CEO, the chairman and members of ADC, Tamenglong have been registered against him and other officials.
The Manipur Lokayukta observed that there exists a prima facie case for investigation against Dipu Gangmei. Thus, ignoring the cases pending before the Manipur Lokayukta, the impugned order came to be passed by the government of India and the government of Manipur, thereby accepting the resignation of him and issued the termination order.
The HC stated that in order to unearth the truth, the vigilance enquiry needs to be continued, for which the alleged closure of the vigilance case is to be restored and the concerned authority is directed to investigate/enquire into the matter and file a report before the competent authority for further action.
And the proceedings pending before the Manipur Lokayukta is not a bar to investigate into the matter by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. It is for the Manipur Lokayukta to proceed with the cases pending on its file and decide in accordance with law and the High Court has not commented upon the proceedings pending before the Manipur Lokayukta in respect of the issue, the mentioned.
5G Launched in Manipur for the first in the Northeast
Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren launched 5G Network in Manipur for the first time in India’s Northeast on December 21 at the CM Secretariat, Babupara in Imphal West.
During the 5G launching programme Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren said that the 5G Network was launched by the Department of Information Technology, Government of Manipur in association with Bharti Hexacom (M/s Airtel). With this step, Manipur is the first state in North East Telecom Circle to launch 5G Network, he added.
The Chief Minister informed that Airtel has installed around 40 small 5G network cells covering some locations in Imphal West and Imphal East districts of Manipur which are currently radiating 5G successfully. These 40 small cells (5G Network) have also been tested successfully, reports said.
Informing that the average download speed is approximately 250-280 MBPS which is the targeted average speed of Fifth Generation (5G) Network, Chief Minister Biren said that telecom infrastructures would extensively help in promoting better governance which is an integral part of the state’s strategy, reports added.
CM Says Efforts on to Strengthen ILP system
Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren announced that the state government will be installing sophisticated face identification cameras for more effective implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system. He said the cameras will be installed in two months.
Chief Minister Biren made the announcement during the launching of ILP Portal for Deputy Commissioners (DCs) and Labour Commissioners (LCs) at CM Secretariat on December 23 in Imphal West.
He informed that the portal had been launched with a updated version added to the earlier ILP system and the bar code has been put in the permit for instant authentication by scanning it. In this process, the authority can detect any duplication or forge of the ILP card, he said, adding that all these efforts have been made considering the importance of saving the indigenous population of Manipur, reports said.
As maximum of the outsiders entering the state are for labour purposes, the DCs and the LCs can now directly issue the permit online, besides giving a better convenience to the visitors of the state in applying for ILP.
He said that visitors to the state can apply online for ILP through its web portal “www.manipurilponline.mn.gov.in” or by downloading an application of ILP from the Google Play Store.
Pointing out that illegal immigrants impersonating as a citizen of the country or state by using forged documents is the big threat to the state, Biren sought the support of all the stakeholders and the public in tackling this real issue of the state, instead of making ‘issue’ out of nothing.
Appealing to the public to be the eyes and ears of the government in sorting out illegal immigrants, he cautioned that the state forces will soon start house-to-house verification to check illegal immigrants. The Chief Minister also cautioned legal consequences against landlords who are found to be renting space to any illegal immigrants or outsiders with fake documents, reports added.
Woman Killed Amid Celebration of Argentina’s Win
Amid the FIFA World Cup 2022 Final victory celebrations, a 50-year-old woman from Singjamei Wangma Kongba Road Bheigyabati Leikai, Imphal East died after being hit by a stray bullet at her home on December 18 night.
Reports said the victim, Laishram Ongbi Salam Ibetombi, 50 wife of Laishram Birmani from Singjamei Wangma Kongba Road Bheigyabati Leikai and her family along with their neighbours were watching the FIFA World Cup final match inside their house. “Around 11.50 pm when Argentina won the World Cup 2022 final, Ibethombi was up on her feet celebrating the victory. But soon after she sat down on her bed, she fell unconscious suddenly,” family sources added.
She was rushed to Advanced Hospital and then referred to JNIMS where she was declared ‘brought dead’ and while Ibetombi’s husband Birmani were on the way back home from the hospital, his son Guddu informed him over mobile phone about finding several holes that look like bullet marks on their wall and asked if his mom was injured by gunshots. Then the family checked Ibetombi’s body for bullet wounds en-route the way back home and found an injury that appeared to be a bullet wound below the left shoulder on her back. They rushed her to JNIMS where the doctors raised suspicion it was a bullet wound, reports said.
Consequently, after inspection by the police and forensic team, the Porompat police filed a case regarding the incident. The police picked up one Khangembam Boby, 47, son of Kh Thoiba from Singjamei Wangma Kongba Road around 7.30 am on December 19, whose residence is located across the street from Ibetombi’s residence. The police also seized Boby’s gun the night before, reports added.
Women Street Vendors Launch Fast-Unto Death Protest
Khwairamband Keithel women street vendors condemned the Imphal Municipal Corporation (IMC) order which limits the vending hours at the Temporary Nupi Keithel in Imphal West to six hours, from 6 am to 12 noon and launched a fast-unto death protest at the market place from December 22.
Since the issuance of the IMC order, tension has erupted among the vendors vending under the banner of Road Side Vendors Welfare Association (RSVWA); Panthoibi Ima Sana Kithel Nupi Lup; Young Woman Street Vendors Welfare Union; Ima Leisana Street Vendors Welfare Union; Minority Muslim Vendors Welfare Union; Schedule Tribe Women’s Vendors Welfare Union and Salai Laret Apunba Nupi Samaj Lup.
Considering the possible outcome of the order, the district magistrate of Imphal West had also imposed 144 CrPC in the whole area of the temporary market as a preventive measure. However, the vendors have been launching various forms of agitations since December 20.
The street vendors draw the attention of the state government to immediately revoke the IMC order and let them sell freely to run their families.
Speaking to the media, advisor of RSVWA, Kh Ibeton, who led the fast-unto death protest said the stipulated time of vending given by the IMC is not feasible for the minimum sales to earn their livelihood, especially in this winter session.
It may be mentioned that at least 13 women street vendors fainted and were rushed to hospital after the police used capsigrenade spray to disperse the large group of protesting vendors of Khwairamband Nupi Keithel in Imphal on December 20. The women street vendors of Khwairamband Nupi Keithel were protesting against the Imphal Municipal Corporation (IMC) order restricting vending hours at the temporary Ima Market from 6 am to 12 noon.