Govt decision to arm civilians triggers unrest in Manipur

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Imphal, May 8 (UNI) The Manipur 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 today said the state Cabinet had discussed the issue of providing civilians with arms on May 2 at a meeting presided over by state Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh.

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

People of Heirok and Thoubal districts had been demanding for provision of arms following the killing of three people by the militants on March 24. Besides, a 53-year-old man was killed by them on April 23 at Chajing in Imphal west.

The government had been considering the feasibility of providing arms and ammunition for the past few days. Officials said 300 youths will be recruited at Heirok and 200 at Chajing districts, who will be commanded by the police forces. Each youth will get Rs 3,000 per month 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, they said.

President of Manipur Forward Youth Front (MAFYF), Sapamcha Kangleipal, was arrested by the police from Manipur Press Club last night for allegedly making seditious statements.

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

Meanwhile, various organisations, including UPF, NIP-CO, AMSU, Mapi Council, MAFYF, Nupi Samaj, Advanced Women Society (Sekmai), United Women Development UPA- CCO (Thoubal), have condemned the arrest of Kangleipal.

Janata Dal (Secular), Manipur president, W Kulabidhu said his party was against the idea of arming the civilians.


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