Imphal, May 30: The Union home ministry has made it tougher for foreigners to visit Manipur, where militants had taken a German national hostage two months ago.
The ministry recently issued a new set of guidelines on granting protected area permits, which every foreigner must obtain before entering the state. The whole of Manipur is a “protected area” under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958.
Foreigners are allowed to visit only a few places, including this capital town, Loktak lake, the memorial to Indian National Army soldiers at Moirang, Keibul Lamjao National Park, Waithou lake and the Khongjom War Memorial, where Manipur had fought its last battle against the invading British.
The Ibobi Singh government has been asked to ensure that foreigners do not transgress into areas they are not supposed to visit. Another stipulation is that individual tourists from abroad be allowed to visit the “non-restricted areas” only in a group of four or more persons. However, it is not binding for couples to be part of a group.
The maximum duration of a foreigner’s stay in Manipur has been fixed at 10 days.
There are separate guidelines for guesthouses and hotels that accept foreign visitors. They have been asked to confirm that visitors from abroad have valid protected area permits before allowing them to check in. Hotels are also required to inform the police about the arrival and departure of foreigners within 24 hours.
The government has sent copies of the new set of guidelines to various departments, deputy commissioners and superintendents of police of all districts and hotels across the state.
German social worker Heinrich Wolfgang, who works for a Bonn-based NGO, had been abducted during a visit to a project site in Imphal East district on March 23. The Kuki Liberation Army claimed to have abducted him to enquire about the German NGO’s activities in the state. The insurgent outfit freed him after 17 days at the request of the Church and various NGOs.
The police said Wolfgang had violated the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order by visiting an area that was not open to foreigners.
The official website of the Manipur Bhawan in New Delhi, manipurbhawan.nic.in, contains information on entry formalities for foreigners and a downloadable application form for protected area permits.
The banned Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) today owned up to the abduction and murder of Imphal trader Manoj Kumar Shethi. It said he had been “executed” for refusing to pay “tax”.
The victim had been abducted on April 19. His bullet-riddled body was recovered from Thoubal district on Tuesday.
In a statement here, the KYKL said Shethi and his brother Binod had repeatedly refused to pay “tax” since 1998.