The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Manipur to get back fort
- Prime Minister to announce transfer of Kangla during visit

Imphal, Nov. 6: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hand over Kangla Fort to the Manipur government during his proposed visit to the state later this month.

Singh will fulfil the long-standing demand of the people of Manipur by announcing the evacuation of the Kangla Fort, which is currently occupied by the Assam Rifles.

On November 2, the Prime Minister had promised a delegation of the Apunba Lup, which has been spearheading the agitation against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, that he would visit Manipur later this month to take stock of the situation.

Singh will also launch development activities during his trip. He will lay the foundations of a cultural complex at Imphal's palace gate and of a complex for the Assembly secretariat, the high court and the civil secretariat at Chingmeirong, on the outskirts of the city.

Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh today inspected the ongoing eviction drive at the two complexes, which are also being cleaned up and refurbished.

Official sources here said the Prime Minister's Office has informed the state government about the visit, though no date has been fixed yet.

Manipuris have a sentimental attachment to this fort, from where the Meiteis had ruled before the British conquered this small princely state in 1891.

After the British invasion, Indian military units raised by the British were brought into this fort for the first time.

Later, the Assam Rifles, which was raised by the British as an Assam military police force, moved into the fort.

Union minister of state for home Sri Prakash Jaiswal, during his visit to Imphal earlier this year, gave his assurance that the Assam Rifles would complete its pullout from the fort by the year-end.

Union home minister Shivraj Patil reiterated the pledge when he visited Imphal in September. The home ministry has reportedly informed the state government that the Prime Minister would fulfil the promise during his visit.

Sources said Assam Rifles personnel started leaving the fort after the Thangjam Manorama case. The battalion will be shifted to its new camp at Maha Koireng in Imphal.

The Ibobi Singh government has decided to enact a legislation to protect the Kangla Fort. An official source said an ordinance would be issued soon after the transfer is completed while the Assembly would later pass an act. A committee headed by the chief minister would also be constituted for overseeing the fort's maintenance.

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