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Wishes for the New Year

Imphal, Dec. 31: Manipur’s deputy chief minister Gaikhangam today called for sanity in the state and wished its people a happy and peaceful New Year.

Manipur has been on the boil since December 21, when the Film Forum Manipur and Shumang Leela Council called a statewide strike over the alleged molestation of film actress Momoco by a senior NSCN (I-M) functionary R.P. Livingstone on December 18. They suspended it from December 24 midnight in view of Christmas but resumed it from December 26 midnight for 18 hours to mark their protest.

The United Naga Council of Manipur called a bandh in the Naga-inhabited areas from December 26 midnight in protest against the alleged attacks on Nagas in the valley during the molest agitation. Five vehicles were burnt during the bandh.

The situation turned worse when militants of the United National Liberation Front, a Meitei group, shot dead two Tangkhul hunters at Kongkan village in the hill district of Ukhrul on December 28 evening, mistaking them for Assam Rifles personnel.

When the bodies reached the district headquarters of Ukhrul yesterday, violence broke out with a mob setting Ukhrul deputy commissioner R. Sudhan’s vehicle on fire during a public condolence programme.

Ukhrul is demanding handing over of the UNLF cadres for a customary trial.

“The situation is under control in Ukhrul. The bodies were taken to the duo’s village this morning. There is no report of any trouble in the district today,” Gaikhangam said today.

He also said the state government would provide all possible assistance to the hunters’ family.

Gaikhangam, who is also the home minister, said police personnel were on the alert in Ukhrul and other hill districts to prevent any flare-up. “We have witnessed trouble in the past few days after the alleged molestation of film actress Momoco. It is very unfortunate. I appeal to the people to maintain calm and hope the New Year will bring peace in Manipur.”

He appealed to all the communities in the state to shun violence and resort to peaceful means of agitation.

“Everybody and every group or community has the right to make any demand. The differences and problems can be sorted out through talks. We should avoid violence while expressing any grievances.”

He also appealed to citizen groups to control trouble- mongers during their agitations.

“Trouble starts when anti-social elements take over any strike. This happened in both the valley and the hills. So sponsors of agitation should check that their democratic form of strikes are not hijacked by anti-social elements,” Gaikhangam said.


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