Saturday, 31 August 2019 - Imphal Times

IT News

Imphal, Aug 31

After a total of 18 leaders of the JAC formed against the mysterious death of Babysana have been arrested, police today searched for Babysana’s father  Ningthoujam Tomchou  in the morning but was not found. So far 15 members of the JAC including one woman are still in jail. 

Earlier, Tomchou had informed the media persons that he will give statement only to CBI as he had already given his statement to the state police. 

The JAC warned 48 hours statewide general strike from September 2, if the case is not handed over to CBI by August 31.

Condemning the search of the JAC members and the family of Babysana a press meet was held today at Thangmeiband Meisnam Leikai.

Speaking to media persons President of Thangmeiband Kabrabam Leikai, Lourung Purel Leikai Meira Paibi Mayanglambam Ibechaobi strongly condemned the Police action.

She further said that the police action is intimidation to not only the family members but also to the locals of the area. 

Ibechaobi further appealed the police to arrest the culprits instead of searching for JAC members and her families.

Published in News
Saturday, 31 August 2019 18:01

CM to urges Center for NRC in State

IT News

Imphal Aug 31,

As the final publication of NRC in Assam is concluding, Chief Minister N Biren said that the state government will highlight the issue to Central Government and added that he will further urge the Central Government to start NRC in the state. 

Speaking on the sideline of an event of cheque distribution for ‘Eco-Clubs School’ at the Darbar Hall of CM Secretariat on Saturday, CM N. Biren said that the NRC process is carried out with strict monitoring from Supreme Court & the state government  has earlier also appraised the center for its implementation. 

He further said that the same NRC agenda will also be raised during NE CM Summit, in which Ministry Of Home Affairs is joining, scheduled to be held on 8th & 9th of September at Guwahati.

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IT News

Imphal, Aug 31

Tribal Affairs & Hills Minister N. Kayisii released a book titled “Manipur State Commission for the Schedule Tribes Act and Rules of Procedure” at his official chamber at the New Secretariat today. The book was published by the Manipur State Commission for the Scheduled Tribes.

Speaking at the releasing function, TA & Hills Minister Kayisii said that the book will facilitate in safeguarding and promoting the interest of the Scheduled Tribes of the State. Maintaining that Manipur State Commission for the Scheduled Tribes (MSCST) is the right platform for addressing deprivations and safeguards of the Scheduled Tribe community of the State, Minister Kayisii applauded the Chairperson and members of MSCST for bringing out with such a long due publication which would be of immense help. Kayisii also encouraged members of the MSCST to wholeheartedly dedicate themselves towards the larger interest of the tribal populace as well as the public at large.

The three year term of office for the existing three-member commission officially ends on 31st August 2019. Kayisii requested the existing incumbents of MSCST to continue with their position during the interim period until a fresh Commission has been constituted.

Dr. Simpson Soreo, a member of MSCST, said that the book released by TAH Minister today will empower the Scheduled Tribe community on the constitutional rights and several other provisions incorporated in the constitution for safeguarding and promoting their interest to enable them in joining national mainstream.

The releasing ceremony was attended by Chairmen of MSCST RH Gonmei IAS (Retd), the two members of the Commission- Dr. Simpson Soreo and Dr. John Pulamte, Chief Financial Adviser of MSCST, officials and staff of TA & Hills directorate.

The book released today is divided into two parts wherein the first part contains MSCST Act, 2014 (Manipur Act No. 5 of 2014) and the second part is on Rules & Procedure of MSCST. Limited copies of the book are available at MSCST office whereas the electronic version will be made available for download from the Commission’s website very shortly.

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IT News

Imphal, Aug 31

Leirongthel Panthoibi Youth Club (LPYC) clarifies over the incident that happened on August 25th Sunday at Etok River, Leirongthel Village, P/S. N-Sekmai.

A statement issued by Secretary LPYC, Y.Suresh Singh said that it is very unfortunate for the club that the President, LPYC, Kiran Meitei had been exposed with false news to the media by the Thoubal River Conservation Committee. He added that the incident happened after a drone plane tried to capture photographs of female farmers while they were cleaning themselves at the river.

In state of anonymity the female farmers chased the drone plane which finally dash to the foothill nearby. The irate locals immediately rushed to the foot hill and found some people controlling the drone plane by a remote control. As those persons tried to escape to their four wheeler vehicle the locals overpowered them and snatched the drone plane and vandalise it along with mobile phone belonging to them, he added.

Those persons later identified themselves as members of Thoubal River Conservation Committee.

He said, after knowing them as members of the committee, they were taken to Leirongthel Panthoibi Youth Club and agreement was brought in the presence of O.C. Nabakanta

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IT News
Imphal, Aug, 31

Chief Minister N. Biren Singh distributed Rs. 1.54 crore to 3080 District Eco-Club Schools of the State through respective Deputy Commissioners and Member Secretaries of District Implementation and Monitoring Committees (DIMC) at a function held at Durbar Hall of Chief Minister’s Secretariat today. The function was organised by Manipur Pollution Control Board under National Green Corps (NGC) Programme, 2018-19.
Speaking at the occasion as chief guest, N. Biren Singh said that there is a pressing need for effective implementation of environment related programmes like National Green Corps (NGC) Programme considering climate change impact being witnessed across the globe. The State Government has taken up some dedicated steps like launching of CM’s Green Manipur Mission to tackle climate change and global warming, he said. The Chief Minister expressed hope that naming of nine-year-old Valentina Elangbam, an ardent tree-lover, as the Green Ambassador of Manipur by the State Government would certainly encourage and motivate people to plant more trees. He further informed that over 1400 tree saplings were distributed to those who came to meet him on Meeyamgi Numit yesterday.
N. Biren further said that that Manipur Pollution Control Board under the able Chairmanship of L. Radhakishore has also been working hard in every possible manner to tackle pollution in the State. Works related to Nambul Rejuvenation Project are underway, and DPRs for similar projects of other rivers are also being drafted for submission to the Centre, he informed.
In his speech, the Chief Minister also emphasised on the need to do every work with sincerity and dedication. In order to reduce noise and air pollution, the Chief Minister said, diesel auto-rickshaws should be phased out and replaced by e-rickshaws. Stating that rampant deforestation and large scale poppy plantation in the hills creates excessive soil erosion, the Chief Minister urged the people to stop poppy plantation as it has become the main reason for siltation of rivers and lakes.
On the other hand, the Chief Minister also expressed satisfaction that 267 villages of Ukhrul district under the guidance of Tangkhul Naga Long had come forward to set aside 5 to 10 acres of land in every village for forest conservation under the CM’s Green Manipur Mission.
Regarding Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC), the Chief Minister said that there are many discrepancies in the existing SECC database. Many needy and deserving people were left out while many well-to-do families were found categorised as needy families in the said database, he said. As such, the Government is facing a huge difficulty in implementing schemes meant for needy people, he said. The Chief Minister cautioned that the State Government would not tolerate any irregularity in data collection and spare any wrongdoer this time. He asked enumerators and officials concerned of the ongoing Economic Census to visit each and every household to avoid discrepancies.
Forest and Environment Minister Th. Shyamkumar, Education Minister Th. Radheshyam, Tribal Affairs and Hills Minister N. Kayisii, Manipur Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker K. Robindro, Manipur Pollution Control Board Chairman L. Radhakishore and Additional Chief Secretary (Forest and Environment) Dr. Suhel Akhtar also attended the function as dignitaries.
National Green Corps (NGC) Programme is being implemented in the State with Manipur Pollution Control Programme as the Nodal Agency. Under the programme, 200 Eco-Clubs were established for the first time in different schools across nine districts of the State in 2004. Every district has a District Implementation and Monitoring Committees (DIMC) to implement the programme with respective DCs as the chairman. The Member Secretaries of the committees in consultation with the Teacher In-charge of the schools having Eco-Clubs organise different programmes to impart awareness on environment protection.
The Chief Minister also extended a monetary assistance of Rs. 50,000 to ailing veteran journalist N. Deben at the function. The amount was handed over to Joint Editor of ISTV News Richard Ranjan.

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The history of Manipur had witnessed two Nupi Lals in 1904 and 1939 as a result of artificial famine during British rule. Few decades later followed the students’ movement in 1965 against another artificial famine post annexation of Manipur by India. All three uprisings were revolts against the ruling government of the respective period that enabled the rich mayang businessmen to get hold of our food and trade it for their personal benefits. Innumerable lives suffered and many died fighting for the blood of the poor and against the system of the rich. As we remember the fight against the artificial famines from the past, we also need to remember that history repeats and another artificial famine is on its way. At present, people of Manipur, especially the poor, are facing the burden of the scarcity of food along with the current soaring price of rice and local foodgrains.         The very basic necessities are sold at a price that is hardly affordable for people with low income in this time of job scarcity. On the other hand, farmers are struggling and finding it difficult to grow foodgrains in the paddy fields because of no rainfall and lack of irrigation facilities. Farmers had to pay the price of the delayed and deficient monsoon. It took away their sources of income and left them empty handed at the time of this crisis. Had there been a well-planned irrigation system, the problem could have been avoided at least in some way or the other. On top of this, there has been claims of irregularities in rice distribution under National Food Security Act, either in terms of the price or quantity or frequency. It is necessary to check if the Public distribution essential items are reaching the deserving citizens or not, and not just give a clarification of well-maintained documentation of distribution by the state.
It is crucial to hear from the people and confirm if they are getting what they are supposed to be getting at the right price and time. Amidst the delayed monsoon, price hike, and irregular distributions, another major contributing factor to the nearing famine is the exploitation of workers/farmers, their lands, and sources of livelihood. For instance, the construction of Mapithel dam has destroyed the whole of Chadong village and their entire paddy field. This huge blow has created a crisis in their livelihood and worsened their daily struggle. How are they going to afford the skyrocketing prices of rice with no proper sources of income while battling to start their lives all over again? The same dam construction has also badly affected the people in and around Nungbrang village.
Sand and stone quarrying used to be their main source of income but the accumulation of stone and sand also drastically declined after the dam construction. To top it all, the recent ban on quarrying has deprived them of their only source of livelihood. All of this has resulted in the villagers struggling to find an alternative, including wood cutting in the hills and clearing of forests. This sudden shift in finding ways to survive has added up to the already existing struggle of the families, some to the extent of losing family members. While the benefits of price hike, irregularities of rice distribution, and dam constructions etc have landed in the pockets of a few rich people, the prices are paid by the poor and with their blood. Therefore, it is the duty of the government, the people, and concerned citizens to look into this holistically and take up necessary steps to fix the land and help the poor in order to avoid another artificial famine.

Published in Editorial
Saturday, 31 August 2019 17:54

Referendum in Catalonia

By -Bruce Pebam,
Secretary HRD, AMSU

Catalonia! A small nation in north-eastern Spain inhabited by the Catalan people, who are significantly different from the majority of Spaniards in many aspects including culture, language and history. For years, the 7.5 million Catalan people have been kept under the unjust subjugation of those in power in Madrid. Deep inside their hearts, the Catalan people have always had the desire and aspiration for self-determination and all this culminated in a large extent to the Catalan Independence Referendum in October 2017 under the stewardship of the regional Catalan government. The basis of Catalan Nationalism stands mainly on the principle of resistance against the efforts of Spanish Government to impose greater Spanish culture on the Catalan people. Preservation of their own unique identity and culture is the main driving force behind the Catalan independence movement. The movement has been fuelled by fears of dilution of Catalan identity by the majority Spaniards, and the realization that continued union with Spain could one day result in their ‘extinction’ as a nation. Catalans have not forgotten in their hearts and minds that before their union with Spain in the 16th century, they were a proud independent nation for almost 250 years.
Oppression of Catalan identity and culture reached its zenith during the military dictatorship of General Francisco Franco (1939-1975). Catalans feared whether they would lose their identity altogether. The subjugation was so complete that Franco’s administration put a ban on the cultural practice of Castell, a Catalan practice of making human towers/pillars during important festivals and ceremonies, a unique symbol of Catalan identity. Catalan parents were prevented from giving their children traditional Catalan names, and the administration instead emphasised on giving the children Spanish names. The use of the Catalan language was severely restricted, even in the areas around Valencia and the Balearic Islands. There was tight censorship on books and publications published in the Catalan language. The situation was similar for many minority communities throughout Spain, but it seemed that the Catalans found themselves at the biggest receiving end as Franco sought to unify Spain by force. The administration in Madrid was well aware of the Catalan peoples’ aspirations, and it sought to subjugate them to the maximum extent. Catalan Nationalism thus could not gather much pace during the Franco regime.
However, after General Franco passed away in 1976, voices of Catalan self-determination grew louder once again. Under the new 1978 Spanish constitution, Catalonia was given greater autonomy. A statute that was enforced in 2006 gave more powers to the Catalan people. It gave them more economic autonomy and upgraded them to the status of a ‘Nation’ in their own right. However just four years later in 2010, the Spanish Constitutional Court amended much of the provisions of the 2006 statute and removed many clauses that gave greater autonomy to the Catalan people. This act enraged the Catalan regional authority and the Catalan people as a whole. Removal of greater autonomy, increasing economic recession and cutting down on public spending all increased the anger in the hearts and minds of the Catalan people and this culminated in the unofficial Catalan independence referendum of November 2014. Almost 5.4 million voters exercised their franchise and 80% of them favoured complete independence from Spain.
Close on the heels of the events of this independence referendum, the Catalan people elected a pro-independence party (Junts pel Si/Together for Yes) to power in the 2015 regional elections. The party soon set out on its quest to hold a legal, binding independence referendum against the provisions of the Spanish Constitution. The Catalan regional government led by President Carles Puigdemont announced that a legal, binding independence referendum would be held on 1st of October, 2017, further asserting that the Catalan people had moral, economic, cultural and political rights to live separately as an independent nation. However, the Spanish government in Madrid called the proposed referendum unconstitutional and announced that they would do everything possible to stop the vote from going ahead as planned. The Spanish government argued that the proposed referendum was illegal under the 1978 constitution. They argued that the constitution did not give the power to any Spanish province to hold referendums for self-determination.
In March 2017, the Spanish government barred the former Catalan president Artur Mas from holding any sort of public office on the pretext that the 2014 unofficial referendum organised by his government was against the Law. Legal action was also taken against many members of the Catalan regional authority on charges of supporting the holding of the independence referendum in October 2017.  Civil officers of the Spanish Guard raided the offices and buildings of the Catalan regional authority and arrested 14 people including the Secretary for Economic Affairs and the Secretary for Taxation. The Spanish police destroyed nearly 10 million ballot papers that were to be used for the referendum. Not only that, they also picked up and destroyed hundreds of pamphlets and posters meant to be used for the Catalan independence referendum. They were hell bent on not allowing the independence referendum to go ahead as planned. The magnitude of policemen and security personnel that descended on the ports of Catalonia to stop the referendum from going ahead was not seen even during the many years of the Spanish government’s struggle against the Basque insurgency in Northern Spain. This only exposed the authoritarian mentality of the Spanish Government in dealing with the legitimate aspirations of the Catalan people.
What was even more surprising and shocking was the European Union (EU) refusing to intervene into the matter, maintaining that it was an ‘internal issue’ of Spain. This left the Catalan people with a number of questions to the EU leadership. What would any nation think if hordes of security personnel descended on their ports, on their streets? If this had happened in somewhere like the UK, would they have remained silent? How can the treatment of local politicians and journalists as terrorists, how can their dragging out and arrest from their offices and homes be brushed off as an internal matter? Despite all the draconian restrictions by the Spanish authorities, the Catalan Independence referendum was held quite successfully with over 4.3 million people turning out to vote. 92% of the voters supported complete independence from Spain and this only affirmed the determination of the Catalan people to live as a free nation in their own right.
At this juncture, it is only fitting that we remember the contribution of Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, for he was the one who brought the movement to that stage. It is most fortunate for all Catalans that a leader like him was born amongst them. Despite the Spanish Constitutional Court maintaining that the referendum was illegal, in the aftermath of the referendum results the Catalan Parliament on October 27, 2017 declared that Catalonia was an independent and free country. As soon as this declaration was made, the Spanish Government in Madrid evoked Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to impose direct central rule on the region of Catalonia. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy deposed the Catalan Parliament and removed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his cabinet from their respective posts. Not only this, eight ministers were charged with attempting to wage war against the Spanish state with their words and actions and sent to jail. They were also falsely framed with corruption charges. This was a glaring display of fascist mentality, despite Spain claiming to be democratic country. An arrested Catalan leader expressed that if they thought this was natural, they would not be able to live as Catalans anymore. His words carried a deep significance. It showed how much the Catalan leaders loved their motherland.
As soon as the Catalan Parliament announced that Catalonia was independent, the Spanish High Court summoned Carles Puigdemont and 13 of his government’s cabinet ministers to appear in court. Only nine of the ministers appeared in court. Out of the nine, eight of them were arrested and only one was let go. President Puigdemont maintained that the dissolution of the Catalan Parliament was a war on democracy and refused to go to court. Instead, he and some of his ministers went to Brussels, the EU Headquarters. Meanwhile charges were framed against President Puigdemont and four of his cabinet ministers by the Spanish National Court for not attending court as ordered by the Spanish Constitutional Court. Arrest warrants against them were issued and sent to the Belgian Government to apprehend them.
Just because Mr. Puigdemont and some of his cabinet colleagues went to Belgium, it does not mean that they ran away like cowards from their motherland. Brussels being the headquarters of the European Parliament and other notable organizations, they went there to spread awareness to the whole world about the atrocious actions being taken up by the Spanish authorities against the wishes of the Catalan people. Puigdemont himself affirmed this when he came to a village called Vilhaour near his birthplace where he signed a pact (Farmhouse Pact) with the Deputy Chief of the Catalan National Assembly. They agreed to take part in the scheduled elections to the Catalonian Parliament, the date for which had been fixed on December 21st by the Spanish Government. The main reason behind the agreement was that they were confident of yet another victory in the said election. They regarded it as a third referendum for Catalan independence. With the peoples’ mandate on their side, they could further pursue their goal of self-determination. They could show to the world the steadfast will of the Catalan people. During the meeting at Vilhaour, Puigdemont told his followers that he would gladly spend 30 years in jail for the Catalan independence movement and he had no regrets whatsoever should it ever come to that situation. His statement only re-affirmed the steadfast determination of the Catalan leadership to pursue the matter of Catalan independence come what may!
We need to ask some crucial questions at this stage. Why would someone like Carles Puigdemont who is the head of a stable provincial government in a well-to-do country like Spain risk everything for the sake of Catalan independence? He could easily live a carefree life with the resources at his disposal. Why do the Catalan people feel that nothing could be more important than their independence?
We should analyse what are the differences between our Manipuri people and the Catalan people, two lands faced with similar circumstances. What are the differences between Mr. Puigdemont and our own leaders who kneel before those in power in Delhi whenever they are told to do so, and why the differences? We need to find an objective reason for these crucial differences. How has the courage and determination of our own people come to differ so greatly from that of the Catalan people despite sharing numerous historical circumstances?
Economy of a place gives us a window into a place’s lifestyle and the mindset of the people. For this reason, it is important that we discuss the economic life of the Manipuri society and the Catalan society. It is a known and agreed fact that the first step to colonisation of a place is the takeover of the local economy. Catalonia has been repeatedly stressing that they give more to Spain than what Spain has given them. Although the Catalans only make up 15% of Spain’s population, they contribute 20% to the total GDP of the country. 35% of Spain’s income from foreign trade comes through Catalonia’s ports and harbours. Therefore it is well and truly clear that Catalonia has an independent self-sufficient economy, and they don’t need to beg for resources from Spain. In this way, they’ve never felt any sense of inferiority to Spain and they feel that they are capable of living independently. Meanwhile, it is a completely opposite case in Manipur. Every aspect of our economy is controlled by India. We literally do not have any viable economy of our own. Our state administration literally survives on funds from the central government in New Delhi. Our roads, bridges, healthcare services, educational facilities are all dependent on funds given to us by New Delhi. In other words, we survive on the resources allotted to us by New Delhi. Any disruption in this and our society would literally come to a standstill. This is one of the main reasons why we’ve become so afraid of ‘independence’, for the fear of resource shortage is too great it has become engrained in the public psyche.
Being skilled in the art of politics in Manipuri society is nothing but the ability to dance according to the whims and fancies of those in power in New Delhi. Elections are frequently won by political parties who seem most likely to garner surplus funds from New Delhi. The mentality of our society has never progressed from that of a servant who relies on the good graces of his master for survival. The race for political power in Manipur is nothing but a race to become a slave of New Delhi. In such a situation, forget aspiring for another Manipur. This is the reason why our leaders view anyone who brings up the issue of independence as ‘anti-national’ while in Catalonia Puigdemont himself led his people in aspiring for self-determination. It is now imperative that in order to strengthen our society as a whole we need to build up and strengthen our local economy.
      We shall overcome someday.

Published in Guest Column

IT News
New Delhi Aug,31

To highlight and discuss upon the urgency of implementing tobacco harm reduction in India, bcpbf – The cancer Foundation organized a press meet at the India Habitat Centre. Present on the occasion were international experts Prof. Riccardo Polosa from Italy and Prof Ron Borland from Australia; along with Dr. Sameer Kaul, Sr. Consultant Surgical Oncology & Robotics, Apollo Cancer Institute, New Delhi.
During the meet, experts shed light on the existing statistics that tobacco is costing India many lives and nearly 1.3 million Indians (approximately 25,000) deaths per week, are related to tobacco. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death and disease worldwide, killing one out of every two smokers.
Globally, Tobacco Harm Reduction movement is picking up pace and many scientific institutes of repute have acknowledged that ENDS pose significantly less risk to health compared totraditional cigarettes or bidis. 69 countries have regulated ENDS, including 34 out of the 36 OECD countries. Giving examples of specific countries, the experts mentioned countries like the UK and Canada which have chosen to regulate ENDS alongside cigarettes and tobacco products. UAE, on the other hand, which had banned the category, recently overturned the ban after taking into consideration the increasing medical evidence.
As an organization dedicated to cancer prevention and control in India, bcbpf-The Cancer Foundation is determined to fight the current prevailing discourse to its logical end – appropriate regulations on ENDS.
Building up on disease burden caused by tobacco consumption, Dr. Sameer Kaul, Sr. Consultant Surgical Oncology & Robotics, Apollo Cancer Institute & Founder President, bcbpf-The Cancer Foundation, New Delhi, said “It is important to weigh the science and document the well-known damaging effects of smoking against the risks and harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes. Without regulating combustible smoking that is significantly more harmful, banning e-cigarettes that has proven social, economic and health benefits over combustible cigarettes, is not justified. ENDS present an excellent opportunity for India to accelerate a decline in smoking rates and adult smokers who want to quite but may be unable to, have the right to be able to access harm reduction alternatives such as ENDS”.
Policy making should be based on scientifically sound evidence and where such evidence is in nascent stages, efforts must be focused on speeding up or encouraging research. In the light of this need, Dr. Kaul also announced the commencement of a nation-wide, cross sectional, randomized study on Indian subjects, led by bcbpf-The Cancer Foundation.
Furthering the on-going discourse on the subject worldwide and the policy scenario in India, three renowned global experts including Prof Riccardo Polosa recently co-authored and published scientific evidence based critical appraisal of the white paper, in the Indian Journal of Clinical Practice. 
While sharing his views, Prof. Ron Borland said “We want to encourage scientific authorities throughout India to review the available evidence with objectivity, fairness and an open mind, assessing both the potential benefits, risks of a new policy implementation and its potential impact”.

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