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Armed forces Act withdrawn from Imphal

The police fires tear gas to disperse bandh supporters who blocked National Highway-39 at Chingmeirong on the outskirts of Imphal on Thursday. The bandh was called by the locals who are demanding the removal of the Armed Forces Special Power Act.
The police fires tear gas to disperse bandh supporters who blocked National Highway-39 at Chingmeirong on the outskirts of Imphal on Thursday. The bandh was called by the locals who are demanding the removal of the Armed Forces Special Power Act. — PTI photo

Imphal, August 12
The Manipur Government today withdrew the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act from seven Assembly constituencies in Imphal areas in spite of the Centre not favouring it, Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh announced here.

The government decided to lift the Act from the municipal area having ten per cent of the total population of about 24 lakh people, Mr Singh told mediapersons here.

The Chief Minister admitted that the Centre was not in favour of withdrawing the Act and under Section 3 it could withdraw or reimpose the Act in the state.

The decision to withdraw the Act from all the Imphal municipal areas under the jurisdiction of seven Assembly constituencies was taken in view of the people’s demand for lifting it from the entire state.

Minutes after the Cabinet meeting, Special Secretary (Home) S. Dinokumar Singh issued a notification lifting of the Act from the Imphal municipal area.

Stating that the government could not fulfil the full popular demand, the Chief Minister said the Cabinet reviewed the overall situation arising out of the custodial killing of Th Manorama Devi by Assam Rifles personnel on July 11 and following the demand for lifting of the Act by the people.

The Chief Minister said the Centre’s argument for not lifting the Act was that if it was withdrawn what would be the reactions from neighbouring Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya.

Mr Ibobi Singh said except Sikkim, the Act was in force in these north-eastern states.

He said the people of Manipur had been facing atrocities by the Army, military and security forces for the past 24 years since the Act was first imposed in the state, while at the same time anti-socials had been creating problems.

The Chief Minister quoted statements of some organisations, without mentioning their names, that the ‘time had come for a civil war’, ‘for a referendum’ and ‘Manipur should be delinked from the mainland’.

“What is this? How can we tolerate such actions or statements,” he questioned adding these organisations had earlier closed down counters of the Indian Airlines and private airlines.

Appealing to people to fight anti-socials and seeking cooperation of the public in maintaining law and order, Mr Ibobi Singh said the government would restore normalcy in the state.

Referring to provocative slogans of some people, he said his government had been in touch with the Union Home Ministry after the current agitation broke out a month ago and asked what created the problem.

The main reasons for not favouring the withdrawal of the Act were questions of national integrity and security, Mr Ibobi Singh said adding that the Centre could reimpose the Act if it wanted to under Section 3. — PTI
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