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Panel to examine social status

Imphal, Dec. 28: The Manipur government will institute a committee to examine social, economic and education status of Scheduled Tribes (ST), Scheduled Castes (SC), Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Meiteis in the state.

This comes following the straining of relationship between the hill and valley in the wake of the protest against alleged molestation of film actress Momoco by NSCN (I-M) cadre R.P. Livingstone in Chandel district and counter blockade by United Naga Council alleging attacks on Nagas during those protest.

The UNC claimed the alleged attacks on Nagas in the valley justified its demand for an alternative administrative arrangement for Nagas. The attacks include a “rape” attempt on a Naga girl in Imphal East during the strike.

“We have decided to constitute a committee similar to Justice Sachar Committee to examine social, economic and educational status of all communities and also disparity in development between hill and valley,” Ibobi Singh told 127th foundation day programme of Indian National Congress at the Congress Bhawan here.

The Sachar Committee was instituted in 2005 to prepare a report on the latest social, economic and educational condition of Muslim community in India and its 403-page report was presented in the Lok Sabha on November 30, 2006.

“If we know the present status we can remove all the shortcomings. This can bring all communities together,” Ibobi Singh said.

He said a report by such a committee to be headed by a retired high court chief justice would be discussed by the state Assembly and a policy decision for an action plan would be taken.

The four-day strike from December 21 to 24 throughout Manipur called by Manipur State Shumang Leela Council and Film Forum Manipur disrupted Christmas celebrations as many from the hills could not go home for the festival. To protest alleged attacks on Nagas, the UNC called a 72-hour counter strike in four Naga-dominated hill districts from Wednesday midnight. Two trucks were set on fire at Senapati on the first day of the strike yesterday.

Today, the UNC strike supporters set on fire three vehicles along the Kangpokpi (Senpati) and Tamei (Tamenglong) sector of Imphal-Tamenglon Road, at Chawangkining village, 55km from Imphal, the police said.

There was no report of any trouble on the second day. The valley was peaceful today with the molestation protest turning into a peaceful rally after the general strike called by the Leela council and film forum ended last evening.

The Leela council and film forum today held a public meeting at Iboyaima Shuma-ng Leela Shanglen along with citizens’ bodies to reiterate the demand for Livingstone’s arrest. “We will continue democratic forms of protest until Livingstone is arrested,” the chairman of the film forum, L. Surjakanta, said.

Deputy chief minister and Manipur PCC president Gaikhangam and Rajya Sabha MP Rishang Keishing urged all the communities to have mutual respect for one another. “The time has come for all of us to take the pledge that we will live for Manipur and will die for Manipur,” Gaikhan-gam said at the function.

Keishing said all residing in Manipur were brothers and sisters and should live together with mutual respect.