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Army chief on Manipur mission

New Delhi, Sept. 1: Army chief Gen. N.C. Vij will visit Manipur and some formations in the Northeast over two days from tomorrow, but it is unlikely that he will be accessible to any delegation from the organisations protesting against the Armed Forces (Special Forces) Act.

Gen. Vij had planned to visit Manipur last month itself, but was dissuaded from doing so at the height of the agitation triggered by Thangjam Manorama’s death in Assam Rifles’ custody.

The army chief will be followed by Union home minister Shivraj Patil, who is scheduled to travel to the state on Sunday.

Sources at the army headquarters said Gen. Vij would not meet any delegation or receive memoranda from the protesters. He is, however, expected to meet chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

The army chief will be visiting Nagaland also for a briefing at the 3 Corps headquarters in Dimapur.

A source described Gen. Vij’s mission as a “routine visit to an operational area”. Three months ago, the army relocated its 44 Mountain Brigade to southern Manipur in a move that was seen as a precursor to an operation against militants near the state’s border with Myanmar.

Blood samples collected from the 33 Assam Rifles personnel who were in the team that arrested Manorama were today sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Calcutta for DNA tests. The decision to line up these personnel for DNA tests was taken after a forensic report revealed evidence of sexual assault on the woman, who the army insists was a “corporal” in the outlawed People’s Liberation Army.

On the army’s urgency to get the DNA tests done, the source said: “Our priority is to ensure prompt action, if required.” During his visit to Manipur, the army chief will convey the same message.

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