Imphal, Nov. 30: Brushing aside demands for lifting of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, the Manipur government has extended the disturbed area tag in the whole of Manipur barring the Imphal municipal area to keep the act in force for a further period of one more year.
The Okram Ibobi Singh cabinet took the decision after reviewing the prevailing situation in the state on Tuesday and the state home department issued the notification yesterday.
An order issued by the principal secretary, home, P.C. Lawmkunga in the name of Governor Gurbachan Jagat said the entire Manipur, excluding the Imphal municipal area, was declared disturbed area for a period of one year from December 1.
Declaring an area as disturbed under the Disturbed Area Act that is part of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is necessary for deployment of the armed forces.
The governor of Manipur is of the opinion that due to violent activities of various extremists/insurgent groups, the entire state of Manipur is in such a disturbed condition that the use of armed forces in aid of civil power is necessary, the order said.
The seven Assembly constituencies under the Imphal municipal area, from where the act was withdrawn in August 2004, have been kept outside the purview of the act.
A public uproar triggered by the custody death of Thangjam Manorama of Imphal East by troops of the Assam Rifles in July 2004, forced the state government to withdraw the act from the seven Assembly constituencies in the Imphal municipal area in August that year.
The army act was enforced in the Manipur hills for the first time in the early sixties to tackle Naga militancy and it was gradually extended in the whole of Manipur in September 1980 as militancy spread to the valley areas as well.
The Ibobi Singh governments move to extend the act came at a time when citizens organisations in the state have been demanding the withdrawal of the act.
Irom Sharmila, a young woman from Imphal East, has been on a fast-unto-death since November 2000 demanding lifting of the act.
The Apunba Lup, an umbrella organisation of various citizens organisations, that has been spearheading the campaign against the army act, has reacted strongly against its extension.
We condemn the Ibobi Singh government. We will continue to fight against it. Prolonged application of the act is a crime against humanity as security forces were subjecting people to torture and killing them in fake encounters, Ph. Devan, a key functionary of the Apunba Lup said.
Sharmilas elder brother Singhajit Singh condemned the governments decision.