KSO urges govt to be cautious while dealing with militants

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Imphal, May 6 (UNI) While appreciating the Manipur Cabinet's decision to recruit and arm civilians to fight militants, the Kuki Student Organisation (KSO) has cautioned the government to deal carefully with the underground cadres.

KSO General Headquarters president P Simte said, ''It may not be such a rational step to provide arms and ammunition to civilians without going into the intricacies of the effects it would produce.'' He opined that the government could utilise the services of Home Guards and other personnel instead of recruiting the civil populace.

''There are enough Central forces present in the state to tackle the situation in case of any eventuality,'' he said.

The KSO also appealed to underground groups in the state as well as the entire Northeastern region to give up their militant activities and maintain peace and in the region.

''Unarmed civilians still remain vulnerable from all sides - the underground cadres, government agencies and armed civilians,'' the organisation pointed out.

''Since the early 1990s, unarmed civilians have been victims of lawlessness, terror attacks and ethnic cleansing, but never at any point of time the government resorted to arming civilians to check bloodshed or curtail the killings,'' Mr Simte said.

''If providing arms could have solved our problems or if the government considered it as the best way of counter-insurgency operations, it should have done so during the height of lawlessness and terrorism, both in the hills and valley districts in which many hundreds of lives were taken and many villages burnt to ashes,'' he added.

The state Cabinet had discussed the issue of providing civilians with arms on May 2 at a meeting presided over by Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, officials said.

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

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

Besides, a 53-year-old man was killed by militants on April 23 at Chajing in Imphal West.

The government had been considering the feasibility of providing arms and ammunition since the past few days.

Officials said 300 youths will be recruited at Heirok and 200 at Chajing, who will be commanded by police forces. Each youth would be provided Rs 3,000 each.

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

The recruitment would be done under the guidance of the Deputy Commissioners of the concerned districts. The physical test for recruitment began yesterday at Heirok Part II.

The Cabinet also stated that the government may take up similar exercises in other areas if the experiment was successful at Heirok and Chajing.

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