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Manipur sets apology deadline

Imphal, Aug. 11: An angry Manipur today brushed aside India’s golden feat at Beijing Olympics with disdain and served a seven-day deadline to the Manmohan Singh government to tender an apology to the people of the state for the “injustice” done to weightlifter Monika Devi.

Failure to fulfil the ultimatum will “trigger an uprising”, beginning with a 24-hour general strike from 5am on August 19, a public meeting held at Khuman Lampak Sports Complex warned.

There was not a single cheer as Manipur Olympic Association president E. Binoykumar Singh broke the news of India’s first individual gold at Beijing. The only visible emotions were those of disappointment and anger.

The meeting was organised by the Coordination Committee Against Conspiracy to Exclude Monika from Beijing Olympics, comprising the Manipur Olympic Association, state-level sports bodies, students and citizens’ organisations. Terming Monika’s exclusion from the Indian squad as “suppression” of Manipuri people, the meeting decided to explore ways for the state’s independent participation in international games. Manipur Women’s Hockey Association president N. Momon Devi said she would not send the state team to the 24th national sub-junior girls hockey in Uttaranchal later this month.

“Are Manipuris Indians? If yes, why are we being treated as third class citizens?” questioned Soibam Indrakumar, the secretary of Manipur Judo Association. “As an Indian, we should have been proud of the first individual gold. But it has failed to cheer up Manipuris after the shabby treatment meted out to our Monika Devi,” MOA secretary B.C. Singh told The Telegraph.

In a move that may bring the Sports Authority of India under the scanner, the Manipur chief secretary today wrote to the Centre, demanding a CBI inquiry into Monika’s exclusion from the Olympic squad, reports our special correspondent from Delhi. Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh also wrote to the Prime Minister. A copy of the letter is marked to CBI director Ashwani Kumar.

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