Manipur villagers given arms to fight militancy

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Imphal, May 13 : In a landmark decision, the Manipur Government has decided to arm the villagers of Heirok in Thoubal District to protect themselves from militants.

"In Heirok village, any security forces, revolutionary or armed groups' activities are not bearable to us. Under a Joint Action Committee directive and with the government is backing, we have come out to protect ourselves which is our human right," said Th. Ranabir Singh, a villager.

About 300 people have been recruited as Special Police Officers (SPOs) to protect the lives and properties of the people.

Recruited SPOs will work as an auxiliary state police force, where they will be commanded by a police officer. They will be under the control of the Superintendent of Police of Thoubal District.

"Particularly, the SPOs primary role will be the protection of Heirok village. They will be working along with the police. They will be a force multiplier," said Y. Joykumar Singh (IPS), DGP.

The newly recruited SPOs will be given a month's basic training, encompassing use of arms at the Manipur Police Training School at Pangei. An honorarium of Rs.3000 will be paid to them along with ration facilities.

Villagers have welcomed the initiatives taken by the government to arm the villagers.

"We are so unsatisfied when the people of Heirok were suffering. What were militants doing? When we demanded for the guns and the Government has agreed to give us, why are they against it? This is not right and they should not do it," said Kh. Inao Devi, a villager.

Dekhi Devi, another villager added, "The revolutionaries kill innocent people. We are not at all happy and satisfied about what has happened. That's why weemanded for guns."

Few weeks ago thousands of villagers in Heirok came on the street against the killing of the three innocent youngsters, two of them girls by a banned militant group. They were demanding tough measures to deal with the nefarious elements that were disturbing peace and tranquility of the state.

The state Cabinet recently decided to bring more areas under the coverage of the SPOs in other parts of the state, which the security forces could not cover.

ANI

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