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Rally held for army act repeal

Imphal, Jan. 2: People from more than 10 villages today walked 5km in Imphal West district and held a public meeting to press for repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.

The march was organised by the Village Women Coordinating Committee of Sangaithel Road, Conflict Widow Forum and Applied Biotech Farmers Club of Imphal West. Children, housewives and members of meira paibis took part in it. It started from Yurembam and concluded at Salam ground after passing through four villages.

Besides repeal of the army act, the meeting demanded political dialogues with the militant groups of Manipur for sustainable peace and development. A copy of the resolution will be submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh. “We organised the rally to lend voice to the demand for repeal of the army act. We hope the Supreme Court will listen to the voice of the people of Manipur,” Babycha Devi, a woman activist of the area, said.

On January 4, the Supreme Court will hear a petition filed by Th. Suresh, former director of the state health department, seeking repeal of the act. The apex court will also hear a case filed by Human Rights Alert, Imphal, and Extra-judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur, seeking institution of a special investigation team to probe alleged fake encounter killings in the state, that day.

In another development, Zeliangrong Students’ Union, which had imposed an indefinite bandh on Imphal-Jiribam road from midnight last night to protest the alleged killing of a Zeliangrong United Front cadre by Assam Rifles personnel, called it off this evening soon after chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh assured their delegates of a magisterial inquiry.

The student union had alleged that the cadre was picked up from his house at Noney in Tamenglong district on December 31 morning and killed thereafter. It demanded punishment to the Assam Rifles personnel involved in the alleged killing as well as repeal of the army act.

The Assam Rifles had, however, reported to the police that the youth, identified as Gonsingam Dangmei, 18, was killed in an encounter near Lamdangmei not very far from Noney. It also claimed that a pistol was recovered from him.

The Zeliangrong United Front clarified that Dangmei had been discharged from the outfit recently and was no longer its cadre.

“Of the 121 people killed in 2012 as a result of armed conflict, 73 are militants, 32 civilians and 73 security personnel. The number of fatherless children and widows is increasing in Manipur as a fallout of the armed forces act,” Babycha said.