IMPHAL, March 11 � President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, who arrived in Imphal yesterday for a two-day visit, laid the foundation of an Information Technology (IT) Park and launched the Statewide Area Network (SWAN) Project at Mantripukhri in Imphal East this morning.
The President addressed the public on the IT Park premises right after laying the foundation stone. During her speech the President urged the people of the State to maintain harmony, reject violence and join the national mainstream for development and progress of the country.
However, normal life in the State came to a grinding halt for the second day today owing to a 40-hour general strike called by the banned Manipur People�s Liberation Front (MPLF) since March 9 midnight against the President�s visit.
MPLF is an umbrella organisation of three militant groups � Revolutionary People�s Front, United National Liberation Front and People�s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak � who have been demanding restoration of Manipur�s sovereignty.
Amid the boycott and general strike, President Patil also attended a video-conferencing session with Ashok Kumar, Deputy Commissioner of Ukhrul district.
The President in her speech congratulated Manipur for emerging as the top State in the country in the recent 34th National Games 2011 held at Jharkhand and expressed the hope that the State will continue to produce excellent sportpersons. The President also hoped that Manipur will be able to leverage the advantages of its talented population to become one of the IT hubs in the country.
During her speech, Patil also stressed post-harvest management and processing to make agriculture a higher income-generating activity and called for ways to increase agricultural productivity through better cropping pattern, using high- yielding seeds and scientific water management.
She, however, expressed disappointment for not being able to visit the historic Khwairaband Keithel, a unique all-women market in Manipur. However, she hailed the great talent and strength of Manipuri women and urged further strengthening of the Self-Help Group Movement and to work more intensively on women�s issues.
The President also stressed that on issues like drug consumption or HIV/AIDS, all require sensitive handling and said women can play an important role in dealing with such issues.
She urged the women of Manipur to take initiative in bringing about a friendly and harmonious atmosphere in the whole State and among all sections of society.
The President expressed the optimism that Manipur, along with other north-eastern States, has great potential for development. Regional integration and their cooperation with the South-East Asian countries can be useful in not only promoting India�s Look-East Policy, but also in bringing benefits to the region, including Manipur, the President added.
After the function, the President, accompanied by her husband Dr Devisingh Ramsingh Shekhawat and a team of mediapersons and security personnel, left for Delhi.