Time to make AFSPA a poll issue Forgetting the other issues

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Creation of seven new districts. The ongoing economic blockade imposed by the United Naga Council. The upcoming Assembly election. These are the three issues which have been hogging the limelight in all the newspapers published in the State, pushing the other issues to the backburner. If Manipur has been in the consciousness of the Nation in the last few months then undoubtedly it is because of the three issues which have been noted here, but this should not mean that there are no other issues which should be in the consciousness of the people. It is here that the public meeting held on January 16 at Andro bazar on the continued imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the State gains significance. And talking about the said Army Act, can one forget Irom Sharmila and her decision to contest the forthcoming Assembly election ? How about the political party which she has floated, the People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) ? This is where the State media, including The Sangai Express, may be questioned on why not much coverage has been given to her political party. Is it due to the belief that PRJA does not stand much of a chance at the hustings ? Whatever the case, is it fair on the part of the media to actually ‘shun’ her and her political party ? Moreover it may also be asked why AFSPA has never been an election issue so far in Manipur.
This is election time and while the Congress and the BJP will definitely shy away from stating a clear cut position on the continued imposition of the Army Act in Manipur, this still should not stop the people from raising the question of where they stand. Why were the recommendations of the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee given the quiet burial ? Remember it was not for nothing why the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh flew all the way down to Imphal and announced the formation of the Committee. And remember too the background under which the Prime Minister air dashed to Imphal and the days of street protest. True the Government rolled back the Disturbed Area Act from the areas coming under Municipal Corporation of Imphal but this was not what the people demanded. This is where there arises the need to question the different political parties on their stand on the infamous Army Act. Sharmila has given up her fast, but this should not mean that she has given up her struggle against the imposition of AFSPA. It is just a change of tactics, is the line she has maintained and whether one supports Sharmila at the hustings or not, the people should not forget to make this an issue in the run up to the Assembly election.

Source: The Sangai Express

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