Govt decision to arm civilians against militants triggers unrest

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Imphal, May 8 (UNI) The state government's decision to arm civilians against militants has triggered off a debate among the general public with a youth leader getting arrested for protesting against it here last night.

Official sources said that 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.

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 persons 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 will get Rs 3,000 for the srvice.

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

The president of Manipur Forward Youth Front(MAFYF) Sapamcha Kangleipal was arrested by a police team from Manipur Press Club last night for allegedly making seditious statements.

He has been charged under Section 124(A) of Indian Penal Code, Section-IX of Punjab Security Act and Section-VIII d(B) of Assam Maintenance of Public Order Act according to police.

The police waited the whole day yesterday to arrest the youth leader, who discussed the "fall out of the government and its failure in handling the situaiton by deciding to arm civillians".

The youth leader discussed over the "matter" till late last evening, when he wss picked up by the police personnel from the press club.

The UPF, NIP-CO, AMSU, Mapi Council, MAFYF, Human Rights Defender, AMKIL, Tammi- Chingmi, Nupi Samaj, Ad-vanced Women Society (Sekmai), Thoubal District United Women Development Organisation, UPA- CCO (Thoubal), THANIL, ANUL (Bishnupur) and Macha Leima have all condemned the arrest of Kangleipal.

The Janata Dal (Secular), Manipur President, W Kulabidhu said the Janata Dal (S), Manipur, have expressed their views against the taking up of arms by civilians in Manipur.

UNI NS LL/src1243

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