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Army act to be BJP poll plank in Manipur

Imphal, March 12: The BJP will bank heavily on the issue of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act to win both the Lok Sabha seats in Manipur, Inner and Outer.       

“We will commit in the party’s manifesto denotification of the Disturbed Areas Act from the entire state so as to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which we will also commit,” the party’s state unit president Thounaojam Chaoba Singh said today.

An area needs to be declared “disturbed” under the Disturbed Areas Act for imposition of the army act. At present, the entire state, barring seven Assembly constituencies within the Imphal Municipal limit, is under the army act, which has been branded by the people as “draconian” and “black law”.

Chaoba’s announcement comes in the wake of declaration of “people’s manifesto” for the Lok Sabha elections by 13 citizens’ organisations of the state on March 6. Repealing the army act tops the issues listed in the manifesto.

Repealing the act is a long-standing demand of the people of Manipur, as they feel that security forces are abusing human rights under the “blanket protection” of the army act, which requires the Centre’s permission for prosecution of a member of the armed forces.

The BJP candidate for Inner seat, R.K. Ranjan Singh, has sought permission from jail authorities to meet human rights crusader Irom Sharmila, who has been on fast for more than 13 years demanding repeal of the act. By meeting Sharmila, he aims to send the message to the electorate that he and the BJP are committed to fulfilling her demand. Ranjan Singh is an environmentalist and a rights activist who is entering the electoral fray for the first time.

The BJP got a shot in the arm today when five prominent leaders, including Naga Peoples’ Front (NPF) adviser Khasim Ruivah, who is an MLA from Chingai in Ukhrul district and a former minister, joined the party today.

Ruivah’s move will certainly boost the moral of the BJP candidate in Outer seat, Gangmumei Kamei, a Naga from Tamenglong district.

The NPF is fielding its Manipur unit president Soso Lorho, a former minister and a Naga, in the Outer seat.

The United Naga Council, which is campaigning for an alternative arrangement for administration of Nagas in Manipur, has already announced that the UNC will not support candidates who are against its stand.

The others who joined the BJP today are Dongmang Haokip, a former MLA from Saikul constituency (under Outer seat), Ch. Joykumar Singh, former secretary of Sagolband block Congress committee in Imphal West district, M. Birachandra Singh, retired additional director of Manipur health department, and N. Ratan, former general secretary of the NCP.


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