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Peace continued to elude Manipur

By The Assam Tribune
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IMPHAL, Dec 20 - It has been yet another year of violence and more violence in Manipur, one of the most troubled States in the North East. In a place where militancy never seems to abate, there was little to cheer, with Naga insurgents massacring 20 soldiers in Chandel district in June, inviting a rare but deadly Indian Army retaliation in Myanmar.

The violence has only been compounded by the never-ending strikes that have made life very tough for the masses all across the landlocked State.

The violence and unrest resulted in the extension of the Disturbed State status till October 2016, preventing the Central government from repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

The AFSPA is probably the most hated legislation in Manipur, where many say it gives security forces sweeping powers � without any accountability. Amid the persisting unrest, the 595-km India-Mandalay bus service was kickstarted to boost the North East�s trade with neighbouring countries and the South East Asia.

At the start of 2015, Chief Minister Ibobi Singh drew flak after human rights activist Irom Sharmila, who has been fasting for the last 15 years demanding repeal of the AFSPA, was released from judicial custody, but rearrested for continuing her hunger strike.

Sharmila, better known as the Iron Lady, completed 15 years of hunger strike on November 1, with no hopes of her demand being met.

On June 4, a deadly ambush by militants left 20 soldiers of the Dogra Regiment dead, in an attack blamed on the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) led by SS Khaplang, which has refused to accept a peace pact signed by the government and the dominant NSCN (I-M) faction.

(Interestingly, in the last few months, the other Manipur-based armed groups, including the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), the People�s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) have become dormant and have been taken over by the NSCN-K. These groups have also witnessed a lot of their cadres quitting and joining the mainstream.)

The attack led to a sneaking surgicial strike by the Indian Army in Myanmar territory, an operation that threatened to sour ties between the two countries. Then came massive protests by the Imphal valley-based Meitei community demanding Inner Line Permit (ILP) for the State on the lines of ILPs in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. The government was compelled to pass a bill after the agitation and the death of a teenager, Saipam Robinhood.

But this only caused outrage and revolt among the tribals, who said the Meiteis are trying to destabilise the already marginalised tribal population.

The tribal belts of Manipur spread over five districts � Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong, Chandel and Churachandpur � constituting 75 percent of the State area with a population of 5,00,000 to 6,00,000 while more than 1.4 million Meiteis are packed in an area of 5.5 sq km.

Tribal Lok Sabha member Tangso Baite�s house was burnt after he was accused of not taking up the tribal issue. The turmoil in Churachandpur district left nine tribals dead.

Amid the tumult, the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) trilateral highway became operational. And the Imphal-Mandalay bus service was flagged off on December 10.

The bus journey between Imphal and Mandalay will be covered in 14 hours. It is the first bus link to provide direct connectivity between India and Myanmar. � IANS

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Peace continued to elude Manipur

IMPHAL, Dec 20 - It has been yet another year of violence and more violence in Manipur, one of the most troubled States in the North East. In a place where militancy never seems to abate, there was little to cheer, with Naga insurgents massacring 20 soldiers in Chandel district in June, inviting a rare but deadly Indian Army retaliation in Myanmar.

The violence has only been compounded by the never-ending strikes that have made life very tough for the masses all across the landlocked State.

The violence and unrest resulted in the extension of the Disturbed State status till October 2016, preventing the Central government from repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

The AFSPA is probably the most hated legislation in Manipur, where many say it gives security forces sweeping powers � without any accountability. Amid the persisting unrest, the 595-km India-Mandalay bus service was kickstarted to boost the North East�s trade with neighbouring countries and the South East Asia.

At the start of 2015, Chief Minister Ibobi Singh drew flak after human rights activist Irom Sharmila, who has been fasting for the last 15 years demanding repeal of the AFSPA, was released from judicial custody, but rearrested for continuing her hunger strike.

Sharmila, better known as the Iron Lady, completed 15 years of hunger strike on November 1, with no hopes of her demand being met.

On June 4, a deadly ambush by militants left 20 soldiers of the Dogra Regiment dead, in an attack blamed on the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) led by SS Khaplang, which has refused to accept a peace pact signed by the government and the dominant NSCN (I-M) faction.

(Interestingly, in the last few months, the other Manipur-based armed groups, including the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), the People�s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) have become dormant and have been taken over by the NSCN-K. These groups have also witnessed a lot of their cadres quitting and joining the mainstream.)

The attack led to a sneaking surgicial strike by the Indian Army in Myanmar territory, an operation that threatened to sour ties between the two countries. Then came massive protests by the Imphal valley-based Meitei community demanding Inner Line Permit (ILP) for the State on the lines of ILPs in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. The government was compelled to pass a bill after the agitation and the death of a teenager, Saipam Robinhood.

But this only caused outrage and revolt among the tribals, who said the Meiteis are trying to destabilise the already marginalised tribal population.

The tribal belts of Manipur spread over five districts � Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong, Chandel and Churachandpur � constituting 75 percent of the State area with a population of 5,00,000 to 6,00,000 while more than 1.4 million Meiteis are packed in an area of 5.5 sq km.

Tribal Lok Sabha member Tangso Baite�s house was burnt after he was accused of not taking up the tribal issue. The turmoil in Churachandpur district left nine tribals dead.

Amid the tumult, the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) trilateral highway became operational. And the Imphal-Mandalay bus service was flagged off on December 10.

The bus journey between Imphal and Mandalay will be covered in 14 hours. It is the first bus link to provide direct connectivity between India and Myanmar. � IANS