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Manipur parties meet on army act

Irom Sharmila, who has been on a fast for 14 years demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act

Imphal, Feb. 3: Eight Opposition parties of Manipur were unanimous in their demand for repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, during a political convention organised here today.

The ruling Congress and main Opposition parties in the Manipur Assembly, including Manipur State Congress Party (a regional party), Trinamul Congress and NCP, did not turn up at the convention, though they were invited.

Representatives from Manipur units of BJP, CPI, Aam Aadmi Party, Forward Bloc, Janata Dal (U), CPM and regional parties like Manipur Peoples’ Party and Naga Peoples’ Front took part in the daylong deliberations.

The political convention was organised by a working group of citizen’s bodies and rights organisations in Manipur, which was formed recently to spearhead the campaign against the army act.

The group’s objective of holding the programme was to know the stand of the political parties in Manipur on the issue ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Today’s convention was a part of a rejuvenated movement against the act and also seeks to include the support of political parties in the campaign.

“We are totally against the act. Our central leaders are also strongly against it. Our party is for repeal of the act because it is a draconian law,” Moirangthem Nara Singh, secretary of CPI state council, said.

Representatives of the seven other parties pledged full support to the campaign for scrapping the act, which was described by the leaders as “inhuman” and “black law.”

BJP spokesperson S. Tikendra suggested a roadmap to have the MPs, cutting across party lines, to take up the issue on the floor of Parliament.

The convention adopted three resolutions.

In the first resolution, the parties which attended the convention urged all parties contesting the Lok Sabha election to include the issue of repealing the act in their election manifestos.

The second one requested the units of national parties in Manipur to press their leaders to include the issue of repealing the act in their election manifestos. The third resolution stressed on a roadmap to convince all MPs on the need to scrap the act.

While taking part in the deliberations, two retired army officers from Manipur and two former members of the Manipur Human Rights Commission pledged their support to the campaign.

The speakers slammed the Centre and the Okram Ibobi Singh government for remaining “insensitive” to the voice of the people and the struggle by Irom Sharmila, who has been fasting for 14 years demanding repeal of the act.