Political parties discuss move to arm civilians

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Imphal, May 9 (UNI) Political parties in Manipur continued to debate the implications of the government decision to arm civilians to fight militants, even as an ultra outfit said it would not attack a force comprising civilians.

Lily Leima, Assistant Secretary, Communication and Publicity of the Revolutionary People's Front assured that the outfit would not attack the local force.

However, the political parties were not happy with the government decision.

Dr Chandramani, president of the Manipur People's Party said the party wanted insurgency to be solved politically.

Janata Dal(S) president W Kulabidhu too opposed the government's decision, while the CPI was open to discussions.

After a Cabinet meeting on May 2, the state government decided to provide arms and ammunition to civilians to protect themselves from militants. Recruitment process had already started at Heirok in Thoubal district.

The Cabinet, presided over by Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, discussed the issue again and decided to extend the scheme to areas where there were inadequate security personnel.

DGP, Manipur, Y Joykumar had been asked to submit a report on the possibility of extending the scheme to more villages.

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

The people of Heirok, Thoubal district had been demanding arms following the killing of three people by militants on March 24. At Chajing, Imphal West, a 53-year-old man was killed by militants on April 23.

Following the two incidents the government had been mulling the possibility of providing guns.

Officials said at Heirok, 300 youths and at Chajing 200 youths would be recruited. They would be commanded by regular police force.

Each youth would be provided Rs 3000 each. The modalities would be worked by a police team headed by a DIG and the entire process might start by June, sources said.

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

The decision triggered-off a debate in the state. Political parties, various organisations and the people have said the recruited youths should not be used for counter-insurgency operations and the government should carefully weigh its decision.

The police arrested Sapamcha Kangleipal, president of the Manipur Forward Youth Front (MAFYF) on Wednesday for making inflammatory statement while discussing the government's decision.

Protests were held today to demand his release.

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