M A I N   N E W S

Special Powers Act to be amended: PM

Imphal, December 2
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today announced that the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act would be amended soon as part of the steps to address the grievances of the people of Manipur.

Addressing a function at the historic Kangla Fort here, Dr Singh said, “We need to consider some amendments to the Act by modifying existing provisions or inserting new provisions, whereby it could be made more humane, giving due regard to the protection of basic human and civil rights.”

He said the committee set up to review its provisions had done its job and now the Home Ministry was working on the amendments. “I am hopeful that many of your grievances would be addressed once the new law is in place.”

The Centre was modifying the Act as the people of Manipur were entitled to the same privileges and protections of law as citizens in the rest of the country, the Prime Minister said.

The Armed Forces were in the state to enforce the rule of law, to punish law-breakers and ensure the safety of Manipuris.

“Occasionally, the acts of a few may have become the object of public resentment. However, by and large, the armed forces are here to do duty. If peace is given a chance in this state, there would be no need to use our armed forces for the task they are now charged with,” he said.

During the daylong visit, Dr Singh laid the foundation stone for the Manipur Institute of Technology, a Convention Centre and the National Academy of Sports at Khuman Lampak.

The UPA government was making all out-efforts for the development of the state, he said, and pointed out that it had approved a number of road, rail, power and other infrastructure projects.

He said he would ask the Ministry of Civil Aviation to expedite the construction of night landing facilities at the Imphal airport so that air traffic could improve further.

Union Ministers Santosh Mohan Dev, Oscar Fernandes and Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister Ibobi Singh and State Ministers Parijat Singh and Gai Khangam were among the dignitaries present at the function.

Dr Singh said he was happy to be back in Manipur after a gap of two years. “I had addressed all of you from this very spot on 20th November, 2004, on the historic occasion of the handing over of the Kangla Fort to the government and the people of Manipur.”

“It was a memorable occasion when the Kangla Fort, which symbolised the traditions and aspirations of the people of Manipur, was handed back after more than a century of being out of bounds to ordinary Manipuris”, he said.

The hydroelectric projects announced recently for the state would take off “very soon”, Dr Singh said.

Imphal would be developed as a major medical centre. —UNI



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