The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Boycott cloud on act review
- Apunba Lup urges all to steer clear of hearings

Imphal, Feb. 6: Hardliners in the group of Manipur-based organisations campaigning against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act today called for a universal boycott of the panel constituted by Delhi to review the contentious legislation.

The working committee of the hardline faction of the Apunba Lup, comprising 32 organisations, urged the people of all the northeastern states not to co-operate with the five-member review committee as it tours the region.

The committee has already conducted two public hearings, one in Imphal and another in New Delhi. The panel is scheduled to start its tour of the Northeast tomorrow.

The committee has been assigned the task of taking a fresh look at the legislation against the backdrop of the violent agitation in Manipur recently. Headed by former Supreme Court judge, Justice (retd) B.P. Jeevan Reddy, it has been given six months to complete a review of the act and make recommendations.

The panel is reportedly planning to conduct hearings in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland.

Moderates in the Apunba Lup attended the public hearing in Imphal in December and submitted a representation demanding immediate repeal of the act. The hardliners steered clear of the hearing.

In a statement here, the working committee said the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee's visit to the region was part of a ploy by Delhi to buy more time so that the people's movement against the 'draconian act' could be suppressed.

The Apunba Lup reiterated that there was no justification in taking six months to review the act. 'Is there any necessity to review an act which denies the right to life'

The statement pointed out that Delhi had the Prevention of Terrorism Act repealed wit-hout any review, but had sou-ght a review of another lopsided legislation that was applicable only in the Northeast.

'Such double standards demonstrate that the government is treating the people of the Northeast as third-class citizens,' it said.

Demanding immediate repeal of the act, the committee urged the people of the northeastern states not to welcome the visiting review-committee members and stay away from the planned hearings. It also called upon the people to join hands to fight the act.

The Centre constituted the Justice Jeevan Reddy committee in November, after four months of unprecedented turmoil in Manipur over the custody death of a woman named Thangjam Manorama.

Representations were submitted by political leaders, social organisations and relatives of the victims of excesses committed by security forces during the review panel's three-day public hearing in Imphal.

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