Mixed response to govt decision to arm civilians to fight militants

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Imphal, May 4 (UNI) Several people in Manipur have welcomed the decision of the state government to provide arms and ammunition to civilians to defend themselves from militants while some sections of the public have condemned the decision.

The people of Heirok and Chajing areas welcomed the decision when Director General of Police Y.Joykumar inspected the areas yesterday.

The Joint Action Committee (JAC), formed in the aftermath of gunning down of one Haorungbam Rabi (58) of Chajing by KCP (MTF) on April 23, said the move will bring peace in the village.

However, the United Committee, Manipur (UCM) and the Working Committee of Apunba Lup (WCAL) condemned the decision.

''The decision is a move to encourage bloodshed among brothers.

It shows that the government does not respect the rights of the people,'' the WCAL stated.

Official sources said the state Cabinet, presided over by Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, discussed the issue at a meeting which lasted for more than three hours.

In the first phase, the people of Heirok and Chajing would be provided security by opening special posts to be commanded by Special Police Officers (SPOs).

The people of Heirok in Thoubal district had been demanding for the provision of arms, following the killing of three people by militants on March 24.

The state government had been considering the possibility of providing arms and ammunition to the people since the past few days.

About 300 youths at Heirok and 200 youths at Chajing, commanded by police forces, will be recruited to provide security to the people. Each youth would also be provided with Rs 3,000.

The modalities would be worked out by a police team, headed by a DIG, and the entire process was expected to start by next month, the officials said.

The recruitment would be done under the guidance of the Deputy Commissioners of the districts concerned.

The Manipur Police Housing Corporation will construct barracks for the recruits and all of them would be provided with .303 rifles and motorcycles.

The volunteers, however, would not be allowed to venture out of the specified villages.

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