Chapter 32

A screenshot from the Times of India

Rajnath seeks report on Manipur ambush

The Sangai Express / IANS

Imphal, January 14 2017: Home Minister Rajnath Singh has sought a report on Thursday’s ambush on National Highway 37 in Manipur in which one person was killed and three injured, officials said on Saturday. Two of the injured persons are in the ICU of a private hospital in Imphal. The incident took on a disturbing dimension as the United Naga Council, which has imposed an indefinite blockade against Manipur since November 1, said the Manipur forces had carried out the ambush.

However one wounded victim said: ‘About eight tribals in combat fatigues climbed down from the nearby mountain and opened fire at us. Speaking tribal dialect, some of them mocked us and opened fire again’.

Meanwhile, police investigation has not made any headway and no arrest has been made. No underground organisation has claimed responsibility for the ambush. Trucks, oil tankers and private vehicles ply on NH 37 under CRPF escort. ‘Manipur had sought 60 companies of the central paramilitary personnel to escort the vehicles and gain area domination. However the centre has despatched just 29 companies,’ officials said.

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh told IANS that from the very beginning, Manipur has been urging the central government to set up a highway protection force since NH 2 and 37 are the only lifelines of Manipur. ‘However the centre maintains that as law and order is a state subject Manipur should deploy its forces along the highways,’ he said. On Friday there was a total shutdown of markets, government offices, educational institutes and other facilities in protest against the ambush.

NPP eyes to field 30 candidates

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 14 2017: National People’s Party (NPP) has been working to field 25 to 30 candidates in the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly election, said NPP National executive member and Meghalaya MLA James Sangma. Speaking to media persons at their Chingmeirong office today, James Sangma informed that the NPP has already constituted a State election management committee.

People who intend to contest the Manipur State Assembly election may collect forms for party tickets from the party office starting from January 16. They can submit their nomination forms till 4 pm of January 25. Hinting that the names of NPP candidates may be announced in phased manner, James Sangma urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) to take up all necessary measures to hold the election in a free and fair manner. The 14-member NPP State election management committee is headed by Conrad Sangma as chairperson, Thangminlien Kipgen as vice-chairperson and Vivek Raj Wangkhem as convenor.

Union Home Ministry throws onus on State Govt, asks it to arrange talk with UNC

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 14 2017: In total contradiction to the State Government’s intimation to the Union Home Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to organise a tripartite talk involving the Government of India, the State Government and United Naga Council (UNC) over the protracted issue of economic blockade, the MHA sent a letter to the State Government last evening asking the State to make arrangements for a dialogue with the UNC.

A well placed source informed that MHA North East in-charge Satyendra Garg sent a letter to the State Government last evening asking the State to take the onus of organising a meeting with the UNC over the issue of economic blockade. The letter indicated the MHA’s intention for the State Government to take the initiative of organising such a meeting.

It also conveyed the Central Government’s readiness to send Central representative(s) to the meeting, if necessary. A concrete decision on holding a bi-polar meeting with the UNC would be adopted only after the return of Chief Minister O Ibobi and Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam from Delhi, informed the source. Even though trucks have been moving along Imphal-Jiribam highway with security escorts amidst the UNC’s indefinite economic blockade, there is no movement of trucks along Imphal-Dimapur highway.

BJP Mahila condemns

IMPHAL | Jan 14

Condemning the state government for being a mute spectator despite the ongoing economic blockade and public suffering, the president of state Mahila Morcha Sumatibala Ningthoujam has asked the Okram Ibobi Singh government to own up responsibility. Speaking to media during a press meet held at her office chamber of State BJP office, Nityaipat Chuthek, Sumatibala said, it was very unfortunate that the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister continue to allege state BJP of having nexus with UNC in sponsoring economic blockade.

Key issues missing in run up to polls: Sidelining important posers

The Sangai Express editorial
14 Jan 2017

Creation of seven new districts. The ongoing economic blockade. These two issues will undoubtedly impact on the coming Assembly election and it is a tragedy that other issues which should be there on the agenda of the people will be pushed to the sideline. No doubt the creation of the seven new districts and the ongoing economic blockade has severely impacted on the lives of the common people, but how about the other agenda? Aren’t there other issues which too have been equally, if not more, affecting the lives of the common people? Why should these other agenda be pushed to the back burner? It is this tendency to overlook the real issues which may be the real reason why the people continue to lead such a wretched existence. Irom Sharmila Chanu has stopped fasting and is now set to enter the electoral battlefield. The lady who fasted for 16 long years against the continued imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act has on more than one occasion stated that her fight continues and she is merely changing tact. The irony of the situation is, the people who seemed to strongly stand by her side when she was on a fast seem to have suddenly changed their mind, thereby ringing out the message that AFSPA will again be not on the agenda in the coming Assembly election. True, the State Government can do nothing to get the Army Act revoked from the State, but at least if this features prominently in the run up to the State Assembly election, the message will not be missed by Delhi.

Other than AFSPA, why have other issues which directly affect the lives of the people failed to feature on the agenda of the political parties? What about water supply? Why has this basic issue never been the calling card in any of the Assembly election that Manipur has witnessed? What has the Congress Government done to ensure that tap water is supplied at least thrice to all the households in the leikais and leiraks? How about the roads in Imphal? Potholes have come to define all the roads and if this can happen in the capital of the State, the situation can only be imagined in other parts of the State. No doubt, power supply situation has improved tremendously in the last three/four years and the natural question that follows is if reforms can be initiated in the power sector, why not in other sectors such as water supply? These are issues which should have grabbed the attention of the people and the political parties, but unfortunately the culture here is such that all these important issues have always been given a miss and they have never been able to influence the voting behaviour of the people. Time for the people to seriously think why no political party has deemed it fit to make these basic issues their electoral calling card.

Pol parties intensify poll activities, roll up sleeves

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 13 2017: With the State’s election schedule already announced, different political parties have intensified all poll related activities which include hectic discussions to field the most prospective candidates. As announced by the Election Commission of India (ECI), the State would go to polls in two phases on March 4 and March 8.

Even though as many as 80 people have obtained Congress party’s nomination forms, only around 43/44 intending candidates have submitted nomination forms. However, election officials have not been disclosing whether there are any political stalwarts among the people who have already obtained and/or submitted nomination forms.
For the ruling Congress party, the last date for obtaining and submission of nomination forms is January 25 (till 4 pm). As for BJP which is in power at the Centre, it is not yet clear whether the intending candidates would be invited officially or whether the party tickets would be given within the party itself. Nonetheless, the matter may be settled tomorrow.

BJP Manipur Pradesh election in-charge Prakash Javadekar and Manipur in-charge Prahlad Singh Patel will be arriving here tomorrow to discuss nomination of candidates, informed a source. Names and other details of all the people who intend to contest the forthcoming election on BJP tickets in different Assembly segments have been already collected and the party’s Central leadership have already studied several times regarding who have the brightest prospect of emerging victorious in the election.

As such, the party may not invite applications from among the masses for party tickets.Meanwhile, MPP president N Sovakiran said that the party has been working hard to field some candidates in the upcoming State Assembly election. The party would issue due notification in the next couple of days inviting applications from people who want to contest the 11th State Assembly election on MPP ticket, Sovakiran said.

He said that it would be premature to tell the exact number of candidates the party may put up in the Assembly election. The Left Democratic Front Manipur (LDFM) which is an alliance of six different political parties has announced that they would field candidates in 40 Assembly segments out of the total 60 seats. The front is also working to put up candidates in the remaining 20 Assembly segments too. It is reported that the front may formally announce the names of candidates by next week.

The maximum number of candidates a constituent party may field are being considered and screening of candidates proposed by different constituent parties are being studied, sources informed. The constituent member parties of the front are CPI, CPI-M, JD-U, NCP, AAP and MNDF.

BJP to go alone in Manipur polls

The Sangai Express / Economic Times

Guwahati, January 13 2017: BJP to go alone in the Manipur polls in March this year. The Saffron party will contest all 60 Assembly Constituencies. In Assam polls last year BJP cobbled a grand alliance of regional parties to defeat the Congress. In a distinct shift in strategy BJP wants to contest Manipur polls on its own. Prahlad Singh Patel, BJP’s in-charge for Manipur told ET, ‘We will contest all the 60 Assembly seats and will go alone in the polls.

We are confident that we will put up an impressive performance in the State’. Naga People’s Front (NPF) which is the ruling party in Nagaland has substantial supporters in the hill area of Manipur. NPF is the member of NDA floated anti-Congress platform, North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). However BJP has not shown any keenness to have poll pact with NPF. Ruling Congress is going to polls alone.

Trinamool Congress and human rights activist Irom Sharmila led People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) will contest the two phase polls which be held on March 4 and 8. A third front, Left Democratic Front Manipur (LDFM) which consist of CPI, CPI (M), NCP, AAP, and JDU will contest the two phase polls on March 4 and 8.The front has announced that it will be anti-Congress and anti BJP front.

While hills account for 20 seats, Meitei Hindu dominated plains has 40 Assembly seats. Manipur has electors of 18, 93,743 out of which 9, 25,431 are male electors and 9, 68,312 are female voters. Chief Electoral Officer, Vivek Kumar Dewangan said the total number of State’s electors as on January 1, 2017 is 18,93,743 out of which 9,25,431 are male electors and 9,68,312 are female voters. In Manipur the highest number of voters are in the age group of 20-29 with 5, 04,502 electors constituting 15.27 percent of the total electors.

Consultative meeting on paid news held

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 13 2017: A joint consultative meeting of the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) of Imphal East district with representatives of print and electronic media to highlight provisions on measures to check paid news and others in connection with the upcoming 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election was held today at the Conference Hall, 2nd Floor, SIRD Hostel, DC Office Complex, Porompat.

Attended by the Returning Officers and other officials, District Election Officer of Imphal east district Ningthoujam Geoffrey highlighted various acts and provisions under section 126 of the Representation of the People Act 1951 which bans paid news in newspapers and other media houses. He added that MCMC will closely monitor the election campaign through various electronic and print media including cable networks, radio etc and a pre-certification will be done in case of advertisement in electronic media.

Use of social media and other forms of mass communications by candidates will be closely monitored. The DEO also explained the new Expenditure Monitoring Mechanism and other related legal provisions. He further requested the political parties and candidates to exercise self- restraint on expenditure. The maximum amount a candidate can exploit in election campaign is Rs 20 lakh.

VVPAT in six IE constituencies

Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL | Jan 13: Voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) is set to be introduced in the state for the first time in the Imphal East constituencies of Yaiskul, Heingang, Khurai, Kshtrigao, Thongju and Wangkhei. Speaking to mediapersons DEO Ningthoujam Geoffrey said, VVPATs would be installed in the six constituencies.

Interacting with the representatives of state print and electronic media DEO, Imphal East emphasised on carrying on news violating election model code of conduct for the upcoming Legislative assembly election 2017. Addressing the meeting, the DEO highlighted provisions on measures to check paid news. He also spoke at length about the District Election Office’s preparation ahead of the state Assembly election.

He also highlighted and elaborated on a few legal provisions against paid news including Section 126/126-A/127-A/10-A of Representation of People, RP Act 1951 and Indian Penal Code 171H.

MPP to contest 39 constituencies

Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL | Jan 13

The Manipur People’s Party (MPP), the oldest regional party in the north-east is all set contest state assembly elections in altogether 39 constituencies in the 60 member house. MPP was in power in the state for two terms first under Md Alimuddin and for the second time under RK Ranbir Singh. The party which was not able to win a single seat in the 2012 assembly election is gearing up for the elections through mass political awareness by joining hands with clubs and civil organizations of the state.

Talking to Imphal Free Press MPP state returning officer Sk Maimom said that the party is trying to contest in all the 39 constituencies of valley districts including 1 constituency for the hill district but still party ticket has not been issued to the candidates. He said that the party believes on quality not quantity so the party ticket will be given after closely observing the ground realities of the aspiring candidate and also will welcome those aspiring candidates whose ticket has been denied by other parties.

Though 90 percent people of the hill districts want to follow the ideology of the regional party only one candidate came out from the hill district as they are scared of the threat by the remaining 10 percent who only want hill area political parties, he said. Everyone knows that something is wrong with BJP or Congress by their action, which corruption comes first and remains deaf when it comes for safeguarding the integrity of the state, he said. He added that the party hopes a positive result in this coming 2017 Assembly Election with is motto of caring and saving the state for its development and integrity.

End The Blame Game In Manipur

By Dr Nehginpao Kipgen

January 12, 2017: KanglaOnline/Huffington Post

The state of Manipur has been hit by over two months of indefinite economic blockade on the national highways 2 and 37 – Imphal-Dimapur and Imphal-Jiribam – which are the two lifelines that connect the state with other parts of India. The blockade, which is imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC), the apex civil organisation of the Nagas in Manipur, initially started on November 1 last year in opposition to the proposed creation or elevation of the sub-divisions into full-fledged districts.

 The UNC objected to the government’s plan saying that it should be done only after consulting all stakeholders, including the Nagas. The UNC argued that the creation of Sadar Hills and Jiribam districts would bifurcate the ancestral lands of the Nagas. However, giving administrative convenience as the reason, the Manipur state government created seven new districts – Jiribam, Kangpokpi (in place of Sadar Hills), Tengoupal, Pherzawl, Kakching, Noney and Kamjong – on December 8.

The economic blockade has engendered not only inconveniences but also immense hardships to the people of Manipur. For example, essential items such as petrol has been sold around Rs 200-300 per litre and cooking gas at Rs 2,000-3,000 per cylinder. The people’s hardship has been compounded by the fallout of demonetization.

In retaliation to the UNC blockade, the valley people (the Meiteis in Imphal area) imposed counter blockade on essential supplies going out of the state capital to the hill regions, particularly the Naga areas of Ukhrul, Chandel, Tamenglong, and Senapati district headquarters. The counter blockade turned violent on December 18 when the valley protesters attacked hundreds of Nagas travelling to their villages for Christmas, setting 22 vehicles aflame. In a tit-for-tit action on the next day, suspected UNC volunteers set ablaze a passenger bus and a Tata Sumo.

The Nagas’ opposition to the creation of the new districts has also led to the death of three police personnel in separate attacks carried out by suspected members of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland/Nagalim-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) in Tengnoupal district in Manipur on December 15.

The Indian courts, including the Supreme Court, have made it clear that the blockade of highway is illegal. Following a ruling by the Manipur High Court, the Manipur government arrested the UNC President Gaidon Kamei and its Information Secretary Stephen Lamkang on November 25. The UNC initially demanded the immediate release of its arrested leaders and holding of talks with the state government in Senapati district headquarters. However, the state Chief Minister Okram Ibobi insisted that such talks can be held in Imphal or Delhi only after the economic blockade is lifted.

Meanwhile, the UNC leaders after meeting the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on December 20 urged the central government to impose President’s rule in Manipur, alleging that the state government has failed on all fronts with the deterioration of law and order. The UNC also alleged that the creation of new districts was a ploy by the Chief Minister for electoral gains. On the other hand, Ibobi called the UNC as the ‘mouthpiece and frontal organisation of the NSCN-IM.’’

As the simmering tension continues, the state and central governments have engaged in blame game rhetoric. The state Chief Minister Okram Ibobi criticized the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi of ‘not intervening and taking action in time’’ to restore order in the state as well as for not prevailing the UNC to call off the economic blockade. On the other hand, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, who arrived in Manipur on December 23, criticized the Congress government in the state for politicizing the issue of economic blockade ahead of the state assembly election in March.

Rijiju criticized the state government of mishandling the situation and said the maintenance of law and order is a state subject and the Ibobi government has failed to do that. He also said that the central government was ready to provide assistance had it been asked for. The state government’s argument is that the center is responsible for the security of national highways. More importantly, since the central government is in political dialogue with the NSCN-IM, it has the power and leverage to stop them from meddling in the affairs of the Manipur government and from using the UNC to advance its political agenda.

While some central leaders would like to argue that the entire fiasco is a result of the creation of new districts, the Manipur state government’s argument is that the creation of new districts was purely administrative matter and falls within a state list or subject. Ibobi also claimed on December 21 that despite several requests for additional paramilitary forces to maintain law and order in the state, the central government sent only 10 battalions, which he said was not adequate to control the simmering tension in the state.

Another criticism of Manipur government toward the central government is that though the center maintains that the ceasefire with NSCN-IM is applicable only in Nagaland, the group operates with impunity in Manipur in violation of the ceasefire ground rules. Rijiju has reportedly said that the central government has no idea about the presence of NSCN-IM in Manipur. While the blame game goes on between the state and central government or between the Meiteis and the Nagas, it is the entire people of Manipur, regardless of ethnicity, who suffer. The timing could not have been worse since the entire fiasco developed during the festive Christmas and New Year season, especially for the Christian community of the state.

The urgent need of the hour is to end the indefinite economic blockade as well as the counter blockade and allow the dialogue process to begin. If both the state and central governments claim that they do not work for political mileage in view of the upcoming election, they should sincerely cooperate to work to address the socio-economic woes of the people. More importantly, the entire unfortunate development should not be communalized under any circumstances. Otherwise, it could unnecessarily lead to criminalization of politics and communal violence that had cost hundreds of innocent lives in the past.

Political pandemonium: opportunity towards progress

Imphal Times Editorial
13 January 2017

If the politics of ethnicity that has for long been practiced in the state as were everywhere else where pluralistic societies exist begs the impression of one characterized by deep rooted suspicions, protracted conflicts and extremisms, it is the inherent undercurrent of instability and unpredictability marked by acute passions and excessive emotions amongst the public. The feeling, although understandable runs the endemic risk of uprooting social systems and creating political and social pandemonium from which none emerge the winner, if let off unchecked.

The public of Manipur does not need to look far to experience the feeling. It is these feelings, when compelled to act upon, would spell disaster for everyone without any exception. There is however a glimmer of positivity with the obverse of such passions and feelings. It is these very heightened emotions that is essential for creating solidarity amongst the different ethnic groups as well as compel higher participation in politics- a paradox that has played out to be true.

And like a double edged sword, it ultimately rests on those at the helm of affairs of the state as well as to either resolve such conflict situation and steer the emotions towards solidarity and stability or to further push the state into chaos and spiraling violence. The role of Civil Society Organisations in forming and fueling ethnic passions cannot be ignored, especially in a state like Manipur where the state government is perceived to be despotic, nepotistic and self-seeking by many cutting across ethnic and communal lines while these CSOs function as pressure groups thereby maintaining checks and balances.

Therefore, the present political impasse which has gained an ugly communal undertone needs to be relooked from a different perspective by the public without reservations and preconceived notions to try and understand the genesis of such a situation which will hopefully help in bring about an enduring solution.

While it would be impossible to shed personal feelings or distance our ethnic passions, it would augur well to keep them in check and seek out the rational and plausible explanation free from prejudice if we all are as eager to participate and chip in towards bringing a solution as everybody make out to be. Admitting the failure of the state to accommodate the pluralistic and ethnic diversity within the framework of the state and society can be a starting point, however, the instrumental roles performed by the ethnic elites in ethnic mobilization and portraying issues should also be questioned and analyzed from an impersonal point of view to try and understand the political, economical and social implications of such assertions.

In other words, the present social development should be taken as an opportunity to get at the root of the problem and subsequently to draw up a pragmatic and enduring solution which will enhance solidarity, peaceful and participatory coexistence which will draw strength and inspiration from the cultural diversity rather than making futile attempts at ethnic exclusivity which reflects a regressive mindset out of synch with the developing world.

CPI(M) meeting

Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL | Jan 12: A general body meeting of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Khundrakpam Local Committee was held today at the residence of the party’s local secretary Moirangthem Thoibi, Khundrakpam Makha Leikai, said a release.

It further said an eight member election committee of the Kendra was also formed and added that Moirangthem Thoiba was appointed as the convenor of the newly formed committee.

Final electoral rolls released State registers more female voters than males

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 12 2017: The final electoral rolls of the 60 Assembly Constituencies of the State were released today by Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) VK Dewangan. Briefing media persons after releasing the electoral rolls today at Old Secretariat, CEO Vivek Kumar Dewangan said the total number of State’s electors as on January 1, 2017 is 18,93,743 out of which 9,25,431 are male electors and 9,68,312 are female voters.

The highest number of voters are in the age group of 20-29 with 5,04,502 electors constituting 15.27% of the total electors. District-wise, electors to population ratio is highest in Imphal East at 66 per cent and lowest in Senapati district at 39 per cent.

The total number of electors in Imphal East district is 3,24,491, Imphal West has 3,53,705 electors, Bishnupur has 1,68,003 electors, Thoubal has 2,96,884 electors, Chandel has 91,994 electors, Ukhrul has 1,12,065 electors, Senapati has 2,59,294 electors, Tamenglong has 93,469 electors and Churachandpur has 1,93,838 electors.

Imphal West has the highest gender ratio at 1075 female electors for every 1000 male voters and Senapati has the lowest gender ratio at 991 female electors for every 1000 male voters. Geographically, Phungyar in Ukhrul district is the largest Assembly Constituency covering 38.9 square Kms and the smallest is Singjamei AC and Keishamthong AC with 2 square Kms. The CEO also announced nine recognized political parties functioning in the State.

They are All India Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Indian National Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Naga Peoples’ Front and People’s Democratic Alliance. He informed that Voters Assistance Booths (VAB) will be set up for every polling station to facilitate voters to locate his/her polling booth number and serial number in the electoral roll of the polling booth concerned.

The Commission has also directed that official voter slips bearing photographs of electors would be distributed to all enrolled voters by the District Election Officers. The Commission has laid special emphasis on the systematic, efficient and timely distribution of the Photo Voter Slips through Booth Level Officers (BLOs), who are under strict instructions to hand over the voter slips to the electors concerned and not to any other person. The distribution of Photo Voter Slips will be completed 5 days before the date of the poll, Dewangan continued.

A Voter Guide Brochure (in local language) will be handed over to every household ahead of the elections. The brochure will have information about date and time of polls, contact details of the BLOs, important websites, helpline numbers, documents required for identification at the polling station besides other important information including the Dos and Don’ts for voters at the polling station.

CEO releases final electoral rolls

Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL | Jan 12: Chief electoral officer (CEO) Vivek Kumar Dewangan has announced today that Voter Assistance Booth (VAB) will be set up at the location of every polling station for the first time in Manipur to facilitate voters to locate their polling booth numbers and serial numbers in the electoral roll of the polling booths concerned.

Releasing the final electoral roll of the state for the upcoming Assembly election at the conference hall of state Secretariat, Dewangan said Phungyar assembly constituency at 38.9 sq km has the largest area while Singjamei and Keishamthong constituencies occupy smallest areas at 2 sq km each.

Announcing the publication of the final photo electoral rolls of the 60 assembly constituencies by the electoral registration officers (EROs) concerned, Dewangan said anyone can visit the website to inspect the final electoral rolls.

National leaders to campaign for assembly poll

Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL | Jan 12: Left Democratic Front Manipur is set to announce their candidates after January 15. Till date, they have finalised only candidates of only 40 constituencies out of 60 constituencies, a report said. As per the report, central leaders of various political parties included in the front will come to campaign for the upcoming state assembly election s scheduled on March 4 and 8.

This state-level alliance of various political parties was announced by Dr Moirangthem Nara on November 13 last year and formally launched on January 7. Six political parties joined hands to form the front namely Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Admi Party, Manipur National Democratic Front, and Janata Dal United with the motive to bring positive change and progressive growth in the state.

District Level Officers’ meet held

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 12 2017: A meeting was convened today by the DEO, Imphal West, at Kombirei Hall, DC Office Lamphelpat, with the District Level Officers (DLO) as a follow-up to the proceedings of an earlier meeting held on December 15, 2016.In the meeting, the DEO summoned the officials to give updated reports on various issues of utmost importance of their concerned departments and also touch upon issues related to the conduct of the upcoming election on March 4.

During the meeting, the District Informatics Officer-lmphal West, N Nimai Singh highlighted the issues of new software to be used for randomization of polling personnel. He requested all the DLOs to submit the full details of the staff in the new format along with photos. DEO Robert Singh Kshetrimayum spoke on the Meeting Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) of ramp and toilet and electricity for the polling stations. He further instructed the concerned line departments to complete construction of toilets separately for both men and women and connection of electricity to the polling stations at the earliest.

The DEO requested the representatives of the core departments: Electricity, PHED, RD & PR, Education, Social Welfare, Medical, Fire Service, Traffic Police, Transport, DIPR, Revenue, Election ,Civil Defence, Excise, NIC etc to make adequate arrangement for extending additional manpower and service support to him for conducting State Assembly Election 2017 smoothly and successfully.

‘Any Government Official found to be involved in election related activities are liable to be punished for violation of instructions of Election Commission of India,’ he cautioned.

Ex-MLA alleges anomalies in appointments

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 12 2017: Former MLA Yumkham Erabot today alleged that the appointment of Inspector and Assistant Inspector in the Weight and Measures Department, Government of Manipur, is against the Supreme Court’s directive and should therefore be cancelled.

Speaking to media persons today, Yumkham Erabot said the Department of Weight and Measures, Government of Manipur, issued a notification last year for the appointment of 5 Inspectors. Subsequently, appointment order was issued on December 31, 2016.However, contrary to the earlier notification stating that only 5 posts are lying vacant, the department selected 12 candidates.

When asked, the Department clarified that 7 extra posts of inspector were created when the Chief Minister announced the creation of seven new districts. The seven extra candidates were elected as per need. The department again issued a notification for appointment of 4 Assistant Inspectors. Like before, the Department selected 11 candidates against the earlier notified 4 posts without any prior information.

The Department further went on to invite application for the appointment of Grade IV Peon cum Chowkidar. The notice for the same was issued twice, the ex-MLA said. The essential qualification for an Inspector at the Weight and Measures Department is Science graduate with Physics as a major subject. However, there were candidates in the appointed list who did not opt Physics in their graduation.

One Okram Kunjeshwori (Roll No 107), who did not even clear the written exam for Assistant Inspector was among the selected candidates, Erabot alleged. A corrigendum in this regard was issued on January 8, 2017, which stated that Okram Kunjeshwori cleared the written examination.

The Supreme Court of India has ruled that the State cannot appoint more than the number of post/s advertised or notified. It also states that the filling of the vacancies over and above the number of vacancies advertised would be a violation of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution and that the selected candidates could not claim appointment as a matter of rights.

Erabot has, therefore sought cancellation of the appointment orders and urged the concerned to take up stringent action against such misconduct.

Rijiju blames Manipur govt for eco-blockade

Nagaland Post

Guwahati, Jan 11: Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday blamed the Congress-led government for the deteriorating law and order situation in Manipur, saying the maintenance of law and order is the ‘constitutional obligation’ of the state government. Rijiju, on the sidelines of a function at Guwahati, also appealed to Manipur government as well as the agitating United Naga Council for joint efforts to call off the economic blockade to allow free and fair elections in the state.

‘I had visited Manipur two weeks ago and held a very positive meeting with CM Okram Ibobi Singh. Central government is ready to intervene and assist the state government in any matter,’ said Rijiju.

Voter awareness drive on drivers’ and army day

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 11

The office of the chief electoral officer of the state is all set to take up intensive voters’ awareness activities on drivers’ day and army day to reach out to the voters in view of the ensuing assembly election. A release said Systematic Voter Awareness and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) activities shall be carried out in two venues of the observation of drivers’ day at ISBT Complex, Khuman Lampak, and Rail-Fed Oil Depot, Malom.

The awareness drive will consist of distribution of leaflets regarding electoral process, putting up of banners and hoardings in the venues to educate the drivers on poll process, distribution of stickers with SVEEP messages and pasting the stickers on the vehicles, it said. The release continued as a part of the celebration of army day all the District Electoral Officers (DEOs) have been advised to distribute of booklets relating to service voters, to put up of banners and hoardings in the camps to educate the army voters on poll process and to demonstrate use of EVM.

GMPC comes down hard on silence of Delhi, Imphal

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 11 2017: Goodwill Mission for Peaceful Co-existence (GMPC) convenor Ningthouja Lancha has blamed the inaction and silence of the State and Central Governments for the extreme misery being endured by the people of Manipur for a prolonged period. Speaking at a public meeting held at Nongshum, Imphal East district today, Ningthouja Lancha decried that the incumbent political leaders could not empathise with the suffering of the masses.

It was because of their indifferent attitude that the situation has aggravated to such a situation. The public meeting attended by representatives of different villages located around Nongshum deliberated on how to resolve the present impasse and work out a solution to the issue of economic blockade.

Incomplete idea of India as a Nation: Need to do more than Act East

The Sangai Express Editorial
13 January 2017

Prove your Nationality in your own country. Sounds ludicrous, but this is exactly what happened when a group of students from Central Agriculture University, Imphal went to see the Taj Mahal at Agra a few days back. If the issue was not so serious, this would have surely elicited guffaws from all over and this is something which people from the North East region of India have had to face for decades. Racial profiling is rampant and despite the efforts taken up by the Centre to deal with this, such a mindset continues to dog many people of India, especially in those settled in mainland India. A reflection that the idea of India as a Nation is yet to strike root and this says poorly of the country, which attained independence from the British way back in 1947. Not surprising, for no one has deemed it necessary to drill it into the heads of the common people that the idea of India does not end at the Brahmaputra. Time for hard talk. How much is the North East mentioned in the history of India? Or is it mentioned at all? This is a question which should have been raised a long time back, before the killing of Nido Tania, Loitam Richard, Reingamphy and the spate of violence against the North East people some years back at Bengaluru.

It is not without reason why the Government of India constituted the Bezbaruah Committee after the killing of Nido Tania in 2014. Again here, it is in line to recall that the Centre preferred to sleep over the recommendations submitted by the Committee for more than a month back in 2014. Still not very clear how much the Centre has acted on the recommendations of the Committee and some of the key recommendations submitted by the Committee included, new law against discrimination, fast track Courts and special police squads, interventions in education (include the history of the North East in the syllabus of schools and colleges), social media outreach and legal awareness campaigns and promote the bonding power of sports, wherein the North East should be made the centre of sports events. A more than enough indication that still a lot needs to be done, to neutralise the chicken neck syndrome and the first step towards this should be to obviously acknowledge that racism does indeed run deep in the Indian society. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will need to do more than just Act East.

‘How much black money has the Government been able to recover?’

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 11 2017: Uripok Kendra Congress intending candidate and Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Nunglepam Mahananda has asked how much black money the Narendra Modi led NDA Government has been able to recover. Speaking to media persons, Nunglepam Mahananda said that many have lost their life in the chaos resulting from demonetisation and asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not consult the RBI experts before executing the move.

He further said that Uripok Kendra already has a sitting MLA who is also after the party ticket and as such he would gladly accept the decision of the party when the ticket is allotted. Nunglepam Mahanada also condemned the economic blockade deeming it as an inhuman act responsible for the suffering of the people.

JFP to call on Modi, Rajnath

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 11 2017: A delegation of the Joint Forum for Peace (JFP) will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh so as to work out a solution to the protracted issue of the UNC’s indefinite economic blockade. Notably, JFP was constituted by several civil society organisations based in both the hills and valley of Manipur including AMUCO, CCSK and UCM.

Meanwhile, RN Ravi, Centre’s interlocutor for the political dialogue with NSCN-IM has invited key CSOs of the State to a joint meeting at Delhi on January 20. AMUCO president Ph Deban told media persons that they have received an invitation from RN Ravi.

He said that 20 community leaders comprising of Naga, Kuki, Muslim and Meitei will leave for Delhi on January 17.The list of delegates who would be going to Delhi was sent to the interlocutor yesterday.

They have also sought appointments with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on January 18 and 19 so as to work out a solution to the issue of economic blockade. The team will also meet RN Ravi on January 20 for the third time since the Framework Agreement was signed.

Cat on hot tin roof

IFP Editorial, 5 jan 2017

The dates for the Manipur elections together with those of four other states have been announced. It does seem now there will be no President’s Rule in the state ahead of the elections as so many have been speculating or wishing, and indeed as the rumour mills said was a certainty in the past few days. Since only a spell of President’s Rule could have extended the current term of the Assembly by as much as six months, it is now certain the term of the current Assembly will be as scheduled and unbroken. Chief Minister Okram Ibobi will thereby go down in the record book as the first chief minister to complete three full terms by the time the next government is sworn in. Although another veteran, Rishang Keishing, also did three terms as chief minister, his stewardship did not complete full terms in all three, although it must be said there is a big difference in the nature of Assembly politics during the periods of the two leaders. Rishang did his stint while there was no Anti-Defection Law to protect his governments, while Okram Ibobi’s reign is fortunate to correspond almost exactly with this piece of tough legislation disciplining and ensuring to a great degree the loyalty of law makers to the party that elected them. There is one more important distinction that can still come about. Ibobi can return as the next leader but Rishang who is well into his 90s now, cannot.

But records of ministry longevity are another matter. The quality of governance should be what makes the difference in the end. From this standpoint, from the manner Ibobi’s last term is concluding, it is uncertain how he and his government will be remembered by posterity. We refer in particular the current controversy over the creation of seven new districts; the blockade by the United Naga Council; and the manner in which the current government is handling the emergent situation. Some see Ibobi as a Machiavellian schemer, dividing up people to ensure his throne; others see him as tough and determined in steering the ship he is captain of; and yet others see him as indecisive even in the face of grave crisis facing his subjects. One thing is certain, Ibobi is someone nobody can be indifferent to. There are only those who hate him from their guts and equally those who adore his guts and think only he is capable of keeping a troubled state like Manipur together in one piece. The March election in this sense will be somewhat a very important report card given him by the people on his style of leadership.

Much has been written of the creation of seven new districts, but as we see it, the only one which was at the eye of the storm was Kangpokpi created out of the former Selected Area Development and Administrative Region, SADAR. Much has been written of the justification or the lack of it on this matter, including in these columns, and we will not go through them again yet and leave further discussions on it for another day. For now, what is certain is, Ibobi has little time left before his term ends to settle the immediate and grave fallouts of the districts creation. The chain of actions and reactions, starting from an indefinite blockade along the state’s two main lifelines, followed by the arrest of two leaders of the UNC, a brief but violent counter-blockade on routes leading away from the valley but one which can come back again in case the blockade continues, and in the wake of all this, a continued embittering of relations between the various ethnic communities in the state, has been sordid. Is Ibobi going to leave this dangerous matter unresolved? This is a situation which apparently even the Centre is averse to handle. It has sent troops to the state, though belatedly, but Ibobi does not seem too keen to use them, and quite obviously too, for casualties will only worsen the situation. What he instead preferred, as he had so often stated, was to have the Centre put the opening of the national highways as a condition on the UNC through the NSCN(IM) with which the Centre is holding peace talks.

One thing is certain. Despite all the allegations that Ibobi should not have gone ahead to create the districts, nobody is willing to see that this too would not have solved the problem for there would still have been trouble from those demanding Kangpokpi district. The positive way of looking at the problem then would be to see, without resorting to rhetorical cleverness and emotional blackmails, if Kangpokpi and the other new districts deserved to become districts, and if creating them has meant any radical division of peoples. Perhaps, until the state’s populations are able to mellow down their ethnicity passions, Kangpokpi’s octopus-like arms can do with a little pruning so that villages sharing affinities with neighbouring districts are free to be with the districts of their choices. Perhaps this is a way Ibobi can leave the stage with some satisfaction of bringing the heat of a contentious issue below flashpoint.

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