AFSPA, Tipaimukh issues grip Manipur in 2006

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Imphal, Jan 1 (UNI) Even as the elections to the Ninth state assembly will be held in three phases in February, violence continued to overshadow life in Manipur where security forces achieved some successes while the peoples' grouse against the ''draconian'' Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act continued.

The AFSPA continued to be the cornerstone of politics from 1980 onwards which reached its pinnacle over the alleged rape and murder of a 32-year old woman, T H Manorama in July 2004. The insurgency and AFSPA issue continued to rock the entire year (2006).

The people of Manipur began 2006 by reading the news of killing of T Thangthuam, IGP Intelligence, by cadres of PLA at Bishenpur district on December 31, 2005.

The shocked people witnessed a bloody battle between militants and police and army personnel the entire month. Police retaliated by killing two cadres of PLA involved in the killing of the IGP on January 23 and the army launched Operation Dragnet, in which nine militants were killed.

February, 2006 also witnessed consolidation of territories by army hitherto controlled by insurgents for almost a decade at Hurchandpur. The raging battle affected the media persons of the state. Militants shot at Ratan the General Secretary of the All Manipur Working Journalists Union who had a miraculous escape.

The PLA struck again killing N Lokhon, a highly decorated police officer and four of his guards at Thoubal district.

By March 2006, the politicians of the state started picking up issues. Political involvement in public issues also started.

Former Chief Minister Radhabinod Koijam, who had almost left politics, came back as the President of the Nationalist Congress Party, Manipur. Rumblings started within the Federal Party of Manipur which had the highest number of MLAs in the Opposition. The FPM ultimately became a non-entity and the entire FPM merged with the Manipur People's party with the FPM chief, Dr L Chandramani becoming the President of the MPP by the end of the year.

Killings and arrest of militants and ambushes remained daily doses of news in April 2006.

However, the people of Tamenglong district had some good news to hear in April. The Chief Minister formally inaugurated the National Rural Employment Generation scheme at the district which is considered to be one of the most backward district.

The month also witnessed major road expansion work. Houses at the highly congested Imphal areas were demolished to expand National Highway no 39. Accident struck on April 22 as a building collapsed during the demolition process killing six people.

In April, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh effected a minor reshuffle of his Cabinet. The Congress party too effected 'one man one post' policy in the party. Mr Ibobi relinquished his post as Party President and senior Cabinet Minister Gaikhangam became the Congress President and resigned as minister.

On April 30, Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal laid the foundation stone for construction of a High Court in Manipur at Imphal.


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