Boycott threat over Monika

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Imphal
  • Published 9.08.08
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Imphal, Aug. 8: An angry Manipur Olympic Association today announced that the state would not take part in any national competition or the National Games if the sports authorities failed to send weightlifter Monika Devi to Beijing.

The association’s president, E. Binoykumar Singh’s announcement came in the middle of a general strike today which brought the state to a grinding halt as the sport-loving state protested the exclusion of Monika from the Indian contingent on charges of doping.

As police poured onto the streets to stop protesters from blocking roads by burning tyres and logs, the association’s officials, leaders of state-level sporting bodies and student organisations went into a huddle in the association’s office inside Khuman Lampak Sports complex to chalk out a course of action.

“The decision was taken at a joint meeting of the association, state-level organisations, All Manipur Students Union and the Democratic Students Alliance, Manipur,” Singh told journalists.

Demanding a thorough probe into the Monika doping scandal, the meeting also decided to close the Sports Authority of India’s regional centre in Imphal until the investigation was over and the officials found guilty of “tarnishing Monika’s image” were punished.

Officials of the association said they were closely monitoring developments in Delhi where Manipur sports minister N. Biren Singh and Manipur Weightlifting Association secretary Sunil Singh were camping to help clear the cloud on Monika.

The sports organisation’s main demand is to send Monika to Beijing where she can undergo another test.

Three influential organisations — United Committee, Manipur, All Clubs Organisations and Meira Paibis Lup — called separate strikes today to protest the alleged conspiracy by SAI officials in Delhi to prevent Monika from competing in Beijing.

With few people venturing out of home, Imphal seemed to be in a state of the proverbial lull before the storm. People remained glued to TV screens for the latest update on the developments in Delhi.

A large number of armed police personnel, Manipur Rifles, India Reserve Battalion and CRPF personnel were deployed at strategic locations in the capital city.

Water canons were kept on standby not very far from chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh’s office to deal with any eventuality. The police fired teargas shells and rubber bullets to disperse strike supporters at various places of the city.

Firemen doused flames at an Imphal city pump after a signboard caught fire after being hit by stun bomb fired by the police. Bandh supporters also damaged vehicles that dared to defy the bandh.

The strike brought life in most parts of the valley to a standstill. Markets and educational institutions were closed. Transport services were suspended and functioning of government offices was severely affected.