By Jagdamba Mall
Three decades after Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958 was imposed in Manipur in 1980, the Act is no more a major poll issue for January 28 Assembly polls in the State. However parties like BJP and NCP are in favour of creating an atmosphere for removing the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) by maintaining law and order and containing the terrorism, CPI (M) and Manipur Peoples Party (MPP) are for outright removal of the Act.
Though ruling Congress, however, is yet to declare views, it also favours the retention of the Act as terrorists are so active that Manipur has become a boiling pot and without Army, things cannot move ahead anymore. “AFSPA could not bring any solution and instead it would prolong the problem,” said Brinda Karat of CPI(M). But the assertion is wrong. The terrorism in Manipur, Nagaland or J&K is prolonging because the respective State Governments and Central Government lack requisite will-power and commitment to root out the insurgency and Army is not allowed to operate in full swing. During President’s rule in J&K, Jagmohan, the then Governor, could bring insurgency to ground zero. It was only when he was called back, the insurgency resurfaced there due to dubious role played by Farukh Abdullah Government. Similarly, the combine of Beant Singh the then CM of Punjab and KPS Gill DGP could uproot Punjab terrorism forever.
Similar, willpower is lacking in the State of Manipur and other states of this region resulting into perpetuating the insurgency. For that, Army is in no way responsible.
A probe carried out by National Investigation Agency (NIA) has revealed that banned United National Liberation Front (UNLF) alone earned around 150 crore between 2007 and 2010 through extortion. According to NIA, one part of the proceeds from extortion has been used by the outfit to procure arms and other part was invested in business to earn more.
BJP’s Manipur State unit termed ten year’s tenure of the Secular Progressive Front (SPF) government in Manipur under Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh as “Dark Decade”, while releasing a chargesheet against SPF government. While releasing the chargesheet, BJP State unit president Shri Shanti Kumar slammed the Congress SPF government which, he said, has failed on every count. BJP has charged SPF government for extortions, blockades and killings. They have become order of the day making Manipur totally unsafe for common people. He reminded an incident of an attempt to blow up Imphal Raj Bhawan with a car fitted with RDX and bomb blast inside the CM bunglow around two years back.
Regarding the scams and scandals during the tenure of SPF government the chargesheet mentioned scams in the police recruitment, in the implementation of Loktak Cleaning Project, in the primary teachers’ appointment, Pension scam, PDS scam, BPL scam, unauthorised sale of products scam and sugar scam during the Ibobi’s tenure. Hundreds of blockades destroyed the peace, tranquility and whole economy of the State.The State and Central government are responsible for these hardships.
Shri Shanti Kumar further said asserting that bandh has become a regular feature. Any organisation can call bandh and hold Manipur people to ransom.
The insurgents have exploded and hurled grenades and bombs at several places across the Manipur Valley in the past two weeks during which some people were injured and houses destroyed. Militants’ press statements said they would not spare persons who disobeyed their ‘diktat’ before and after the elections.
According to data from the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW), on an average each contesting legislator in Manipur has registered an increase of Rs 98.08 lakh in his assets since the last polls of the 41 recontesting legislators, 27 are from Congress with average assets worth Rs 1.11 Crore. Congress TN Haokip has registered the highest increase of more than Rs 9 crore in his assets since 2007. He declared his assets to be worth Rs 29 lakh which has increased to over Rs 10 crore in 2012.
AFSPA which was a major issue in previous election, is no longer a major issue this time, seven major insurgent organisations like RPF, UNLF, PLA, KCP, PREPAK, KYKL and UPPK have banned the campaigning of Congress saying that they are against the revolutionary movement of Manipur.
The insurgents have exploded and hurled grenades and bombs at several places across the Manipur Valley in the past two weeks during which some people were injured and houses destroyed. Militants press statements said they would not spare persons who disobeyed their ‘diktat’ before and after the elections.
The 350 companies (3,500 security personnel) including 280 para military forces have arrived. They are engaged in foot patrolling and other activities to acclimatise the situation.
Naga People’s Front (NPF) has for the first time, fielded 12 candidates in various hill districts. United Naga Council, an apex body of Nagas of Manipur and staunch supporter of NSCN (IM) with its demand for Greater Nagaland, issued a diktat banning the campaigning for the candidates other than NPF candidates. Nagaland Chief Minister Shri Neiphiu Rio assured Nagas of Manipur that NPF was the only hope for them.