Manipur CM Okram Ibobi Singh fired upon by NSCN (IM) militants, escapes unhurt
Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh escaped unhurt when suspected militants opened gunfire as he was getting out of his helicopter at the Ukhrul helipad, CID officials said on Monday.
Imphal: Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh escaped unhurt when suspected militants opened gunfire as he was getting out of his helicopter at the Ukhrul helipad, CID officials said on Monday. The attack comes days after Ibobi claimed that the law and order situation in Manipur has improved dramatically.
A jawan of the Manipur Rifles was injured in the firing which took place when the chief minister stepped out of the helicopter and was being greeted by government officials, the officials said.
The chief minister's helicopter immediately took off and left for Chingai but could not land at the remote village due to protests, the official said. Ibobi then cancelled his programme and flew back to the state capital where he called an emergency cabinet meeting, the source said.
Ibobi had several programmes lined up at Hunphung village and at Chingai village in Ukhrul district. Ibobi was to travel to Hunphung to inaugurate the 100 bedded Ukhrul district hospital besides a power sub-station, the sources said.
Civil Society organisations had called a curfew and put up a road blockade along the three km route to Hunphung from the helipad, the sources said, adding that two vehicles had also been set ablaze by the protesters.
Earlier, a jawan of the Indian Resserve Battalion sustained splinter injuries in a bomb attack by suspected militants on the newly constructed hospital in the wee hours today before its scheduled inauguration, police said.
Two bombs were fired at the hospital either from a lethod gun or rocket launcher, the official said. At remote Chingai village, Singh was scheduled to inaugurate a power sub-station, a BDO office and a bank building. Tension prevailed in the area, the official said.
In an interview with IANS, Ibobi had earlier said, "In the past, shops and kiosks pulled down shutters by nightfall and people stayed at home. Today people can be seen (on the streets) till late in the night and shopkeepers do brisk business." With assembly elections not far away, the Congress leader said people in the state no longer lived in fear of the various militant groups, big and small.
Militants used to sneak into Manipur from neighbouring Myanmar to commit crime and escape, he said.
"We have beefed up security at the border towns with the result that militants cannot make their presence felt now," the chief minister said in an interview. More than 30 insurgent outfits used to operate in the urban areas of Manipur. Police claim a significant fall in insurgency-related violence. But stray bomb attacks continue.
"The people who are fed up with the senseless violence of the insurgents provide vital information about them (to the authorities)," said the chief minister. According to Ibobi, the insurgents cannot find easy shelter even in the hills as almost all the tribal underground outfits have come overground after signing the Suspension of Operations (SoO) pact.
He however admitted that there were complaints against the activities of some of these groups. Ibobi said: "We are in touch with the central security forces to enforce the ground rules. "We have been drawing the attention of the Centre to the presence of the signatories to ceasefire in Manipur who should be confined to Nagaland only."
The NSCN-K has abrogated the ceasefire pact and resumed attacks against security forces. Ibobi disclosed that several cadres of the two Nagaland-based outfits had fanned out to other states in the northeast although they should be, legally, confined to Nagaland. Despite threats to veto the state government order, Ibobi had on August 12, 2004, lifted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, from seven assembly segments in Manipur.
"In the long run it has helped improve the law and order in the state," the Congress leader said. "There is no immediate plan to lift the Afspa from other segments since we fear that in view of objections from the Defence Ministry, the government move may be vetoed," he added.
Ibobi complained that the state government had got no cooperation from the Centre on Afspa, which gives sweeping powers to security forces. And despite numerous allegations of rights abuses, security personnel were not prosecuted as prior approval of the Centre was a must and no such approval was given, he said.
With inputs from PTI and IANS