The Manipur government on Wednesday declared the entire state a ‘disturbed area’ under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) for a period of six months in the wake of the prevailing law and order situation. However, the status will not be implemented in areas under the jurisdiction of 19 police stations including the capital Imphal.
The state government, in a notification, said that the ‘violent activities of various extremist/insurgent groups warrant the use of Armed Forces in aid of civil administraton in the entire state’.
The developments came after a fresh round of protests erupted following the kidnapping and brutal killing of two students belonging to the Metei community by suspected armed men. Scores of students took to streets and attempted to march towards chief minister N Biren Singh's residence after the pictures of students' bodies emerged on social media, days after the government lifted the nearly five-month ban on mobile internet services.
The notification further said that a detailed assessment of the situation on ground is convenient at the moment considering the security forces are currently occupied in maintaining the law and order in the state. Therefore, reviewing the ‘disturbed area’ status is also not appropriate before arriving at a conclusion on such sensitive matter, the government said.
It has also acknowledged the possible resistance and public criticism following the declaration of the ‘disturbed area’ status ‘if proper care is not taken’, and further announced the maintenance of status quo in the declared areas.
On recent killings of two students – Phijam Hemjit, 20, and Hijam Linthoingambi, 17 – CM Biren Singh assured action against the perpetrators. The case has been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and a team headed by the agency's special director Ajay Bhatnagar has already reached Imphal today.
Meanwhile, the Manipur police said their initial probe revealed that the missing 20-year-old man and 17-year-old girl may have eloped on July 6, but got trapped in an area dominated by the Kuki community while fleeing, after which they were allegedly abducted and murdered.
Image source: OpIndia