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Tuesday, 03 March 2020 - Imphal Times

CM launches Online Portal to Monitor Transit of Forest Produce to ensure Good Governance

IT News
Imphal, March 3

Chief Minister N. Biren Singh launched 2 (two) Web-Applications namely, “Online Portal for Monitoring of Transit of Forest Produces, Revenue Collection and prevention of illegal transport and wildlife crimes” and “Dynamic & Interactive Official Website of Forest Department, Manipur” in respect of Forest Department, Manipur at CM’s Secretariat, Imphal.
During the ceremony, the Chief Minister congratulated the Forest Department for taking such initiative for developing a user-friendly and people-centric dynamic Portal and a Website targeting to address the public grievances by bringing in technology-based interventions. He lauded that the Online Portal is the first and one of its kind in the country. The Chief Minister expressed his concern on the rampant destruction of forests and killing of wildlife especially in the Hill areas of Manipur. He appealed to the general public to join hands with the Government in protection and conservation of forests to address the issue of Climate Change. Now, the People sitting at their homes may get access to information on their mobile from Online Portal and the Website. Further, he appealed to the general public to take full advantage of such initiative taken up by the Government to ensure healthy co-ordination between the Government and the public for a better tomorrow.
The Application and the Website have been developed in compliance with the mission of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India for “Digital India”. The Web-Applications are compliant to Government of India guidelines. These have been developed by the Forest Department, Manipur through National Informatics Centre Services Inc. (NICSI), a body Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India.
The Dynamic Online Portal has many functionalities. It will ensure ease of business to both Customers/Consignees and the Forest Staff. It will ensure Good Governance, transparency, flow of information to the public, hassle-free support to the customer/ consignee and remove their inconveniences, fast delivery on real-time basis, corruption-free interface between customer and Forest staff and accountability. It will also remove the scope of illegal elements from using fake Transit Passes in illegal transport of Forest Produce because the Transit Passes (TPs) will be system generated and secured with QR code. The Portal intends to develop a strong information network to prevent smuggling of Forest Produce and Wildlife articles.
It may further save and enhance the revenue collection of the State by preventing illegal activities and ensure quick deposition in the Government exchequer on real-time basis through online payment gateway.
Further, a dynamic and interactive official website of Forest Department will facilitate the two way information flow. The Website has provided public interface for ease of business and good platforms like Nursery Management system, mechanism for management of Wood Based Industries, scheme-wise & District-wise various activities being undertaken by the Department etc. The website is interactive and provides many information in public domain to maintain transparency and accountability, which is the focus of the present Government.
During the launching event, Dr. Suhel Akhtar, IAS, Addl. Chief Secretary (Forest, Environment & Climate Change); Kereilhouvi Angami, IFS, PCCF & HoFF; Anurag Bajpai, IFS, Addl. PCCF (Admin) and Nodal Officer (IT); Waikhom Romabai, ACF and in-charge of IT; Officials of NIC, Manipur were also present among other senior officials of the Forest Department, Manipur.

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34 pilgrims from Maharashtra stranded in Iran; Three fresh cases of Coronavirus in Delhi, Telengana and Rajasthan

IT News
Mumbai, March 3

Since Iran has suspended flights to Asian countries including India and China, following outbreak of coronavirus, 34 pilgrims (most of them senior citizens) from Sangli, Kolhapur, Solapur and other districts of Maharashtra are stranded in Tehran, with no chance of they returning to India soon.
The pilgrims reached Tehran on 21 February, as part of 12 days package tour organised by “Saad Travel”. From Tehran they wanted to travel to Najaf (Al-Najaf al-Ashraf, also known as Baniqia is a city in central-south Iraq about 160 km south of Baghdad). Al-Najaf is site of the burial place of Muhammad’s son in law and cousin, Imam ‘Alî ibn Abî Tâlib. The city is a centre of pilgrimage throughout the Shi’ite Islamic world. However the pilgrims could not proceed to Iraq and remained stranded in Tehran.
The pilgrims wanted to return to India on 28 February, but in absence of flights they could not travel to India and are stranded in Tehran since then. The hotels where they were lodged earlier, are reluctant to give them accommodation, some of the pilgrims communicated their relatives through video caller.  
In response to their message for rescue, NCP MP Supriya Sule has sought intervention of Union External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to rescue the stranded pilgrims. In the letter dated 29 February to Jaishanker, she has forwarded full details of the pilgrims including their names, passport numbers etc. (A copy is in possession of IT) and sought his immediate attention since all the pilgrims are senior citizens. Another MP Sadashiv Mandalik (Shiv Sena) has also forwarded similar letter to Jaishankar seeking his intervention in the matter.
In another development, three patients suspected to be infected by Coronavirus have been found in Delhi, Jaipur (Rajasthan) and Telangana. The first two passengers travelled from Italy to Delhi and Jaipur respectively, while the patient in Telangana arrived from Dubai. They have been admitted to the hospitals and their health condition is being closely monitored. The patient admitted to Sawai Mansingh Hospital in Jaipur has tested positive.
 Similarly a 36 year youth who had returned to Payyanur (Kerala) from Malaysia died on Friday. He was admitted to the Ernakulam Govt Hospital. He was suffering from Pneumonia and had tested negative for coronavirus. The doctors are not yet clear, whether he died of coronavirus.
 In the meanwhile, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered the country’s international airports to extend passenger screening to all travellers arriving from Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. Airports in India were previously directed to only screen passengers arriving from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Singapore.
This move is aimed at limiting the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, which has spread to 32 countries so far. DGCA stated that the screening should be conducted ‘once the passengers step out of the specific locations at all the airports’. They will have to fill in self-declaration forms, according to the instructions of the health and family welfare ministry.  
Airlines have also been directed to conduct in-flight announcements on incoming flights from the above countries. Last month, many airports around the world, including in India and the US, had started screening passengers arriving from China and Hongkong.

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CSOs appeal to be fair while conducting drive against illegal Saw Mills

IT News
Imphal, March 3

While appreciating the State Forest department in the recent closure of Timber Saw Mills which were illegally set up, Wildlife & Biodiversity Conservation Committee (WBCC) Manipur and Unique Wildlife Protection Committee (UWLPC) Manipur today said that partiality has been notice while rendering their duty.
Talking to media persons, spokesperson of the two organization Romes said that they will not remain as mute spectator if the partiality in closing the illegal Timber Saw Mills are not stop.
He said that people now knows how the illegally run saw mills has been destructing the forest area of the state.
Romes Ningthoujam, who is also the general secretary of WBCC, said that everytime when any department of the state tried to take up some welfare programme of the state, interference from some influential person derailed the work. Stating that the ongoing drive against illegal saw mills need to be support by all. The organizations also appealed the government not to interfere to the good work being taken up and also appealed the Forest department authority to deliver their service without disparities.  

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World Wild Life Day : Asnikumar expresses serious concerns

IT News

Imphal, March 3

Vice President of BJP Manipur Pradesh , M.Asnikumar Singh who is also an environmentalist expressed serious concern to the betrayal of our responsibilities towards the environment. In a statement released by the environmentalist in connection with the World Wildlife Day being observed today under the theme Sustaining all life on earth, Asnikumar said that it is saddening to see that only on days such as this we seek to be reminded of what we are accountable to. Remember that the earth does not belong to us, we belong to mother earth. It is paramount that each one of us goes through some form of true, meaningful personal connection with any form of flora and fauna at least once in our lives. Then only one will truly appreciate what it means to be part of such an ecosystem.

Asnikumar said he had  a deep personal connect with our own Sangai (Cervus eldii eldii), partly as he was born very close to its home, the Keibul Lamjao National Park and also because as kids they were taught to appreciate what we were blessed with in our village  i.e a floating national park home to a species found only in our state all over the world.

Asnikumar appealed people to take a small step; to devise a holistic, all inclusive, coherent action plan to save the beautiful and elegant Sangai from the harms it has endured since decades.

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AIPF Assam chapter urges media for restrain

IT News
Guwahati, March 3,

Assam chapter of All India Patriotic Forum (AIPF) has expressed serious concern over an unhealthy media debates by some journalists relating to the forthcoming elections of Guwahati Press Club (GPC), a pioneer pressmen’s organization in northeast India and urged them to exercise restrain while reporting an event confined to a club election.
Mentionable is that the outgoing secretary of GPC, who is a member of AIPF, has been targeted by a section of media outlets as the club polls were not held for many years. But when there was a full-fledged executive committee, only one person (read secretary) cannot be made accountable for the delay. The general members of GPC too could have been pro-active in this respect.
AIPF Assam chapter argues that the over exposure of a club election in the public space could damage the image & integrity of media to many extents and nobody would prefer that in a democratic country like India. It also expressed hope that the club would soon have a new executive committee to lead the organisation from the front.

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MNRF observes 9th Raising day; appeals people to stop community based politics

IT News
Imphal, March 3

Armed rebel group Manipur Naga Revolutionary Front (MNRF), which is waging war against the government of India demanding sovereignty of the region today observed 9th Raising Day.
In connection with the observance, the armed rebel group appealed people of the region to stop community base politics. A statement by Rex Kashung , Asst. Secretary, Information and Publcity of the outfit said that  the sovereignty of the region was not given to Indian by our fore-fathers it was forcefully taken away from them by the colonialist India.
“ Let us stand strong together in unity & fraternity against these colonial regime India policies which are still out heights hovering to corrupt, coup and infect the leaders of a communities residing in Manipur from time immemorial with the vision virus of singular community benefit & interest”, the statement of the outfit said while adding that If the people of this region stop community based politics the evil regime game of India can never sabotage to achieved in restoration of our strong Independent country Manipur.
“We must aware the wisdom and motive of GOI is to bring endless bloodshed within ourselves through community based politics”,  MNRF said and appealed to all the community leaders to stop the anti-history, social & political elements that are composed by present human wisdom but to humble ourselves in our genuine history through unity & fraternity to regained our lost independent.
The MNRF also extended greetings to all the Members of CORCOM , communities leaders, intellectuals, scholars, Religious CSO leaders ,old and young citizens of Manipur on occasion of the 9th Raising day of the party.
The statement further said that MNRF strongly belief that it is their birth duty to revive their fore-fathers limitless unity, hopes, dreams and oneness potential once again a reality in our land Manipur.
“It is time for us to say no and enough to the colonial force India who are using our own hands to demolish the fundamental welfare of our long cherish co-existence unity through distrust and selfish community based politics. It is our need of hour to deeply re-think, re-consider our own community error and weakness of past and present to pave way for our future to revitalize our political, historical & freedom rights”, the statement added.

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Empowering the women – Manipur’s perspectives

With the month of March begins the world once more starts celebrating International Women’s day under the theme ‘Each for Equal’. The day is being celebrated across the world to show respect to the women community and also to uplift them from the crunch of the male dominated society.
Every year Manipur joined the world community in celebrating the International Women’s Day. This year the state government seems to have realized the need for respect for women in the state.
Well the observation of the day has its root at New York. The mass protest of the women garment worker in 1908 demanding improvement of their working condition had brought significant changes to the condition of women. Commemorating the day the United States of America observed February 28 as the National Women’s Day in 2009.
Since then various uprising across the European countries took place. The United Nations later deeply felt the need for recognizing a day particularly for women and since 1975, the March 8 has been observing as the International Day across the globe.
Like every nations across the globe, the erstwhile kingdom of Manipur had witnessed various historic events. The first Nupi lal of 1904 and the 2nd Nupi Lal of 1939, are some of the events where Manipuri women contribution towards bringing a change in the society is worth remembering.
Unlike the western countries which celebrate International Women’s Day, the kind of observation being taken place in a place like Manipur is different – Women’s day being observed by various organizations in the state is rather to find a solution to the problems being faced by the women of today’s Manipuri society. And unlike in the mainland Indian states and other developed and developing countries, the issues are of the women here in Manipur are very different.
There are certain issues like domestic violence, polygamy, rape and crime against women, issues of widows, orphan girl child may be somewhat similar in almost all human society. But the kind of subjugation being faced by the women of Manipur under the draconian laws and the women becoming most venerable object during conflict between non state actors and state actors is serious.
Women of Manipur have always been in the forefront at every historical event. Manipuri women had been known for their contribution in supporting the society in economy upliftment and societal changes. History proves it. But one thing that confuse to many is why the women still are the seems to be lacking far behind their male counterpart both in education and participation in the governance. As per record female literacy rate of Manipur is only 65.46%, when the literacy rate for male is 82.14%. This means that women are still seen deprived in education.
On the other hand Manipur’s societal structure is always seen as male dominating society even after knowing that women have been always in the forefront – whether it may be fighting against immoral activities, drugs or wrongs of the government besides taking active role in supporting their respective family economically. But when it comes to rituals women are still forbidden to take the lead role. For example women are not allowed to do Keiyna dan during the marriage of her daughter when she is the only parents left. A widow with only daughters still has to wait some male relative to perform the last rite of her husband or near and dear one. In both Sanamahi and Manipuri Veishnavite culture women are always told to follow the male. They are not allowed to sit at ‘Phambal’- a place where head of the family often sit. This means that women are never considered as the head of family. These are issues.
For Manipur Women’s day observance is very significant. But organizations observing the day need more courage to voice the problems of Manipuri women and also urged every political party to uplift women by way of providing them chances to become lawmakers.

Empowerment of Rural Women: Role of Nutrition and Health with special reference to North East India

By Prof. M. Premjit Singh,
Vice-Chancellor, Central Agricultural University, Imphal

We give names of our daughters as ‘Annapurna’, ‘Laxmi’, ‘Indira’ and ‘Kamala’ which are other names of Goddess ‘Mahalaxmi’ who is in charge of storing of food, preparation of foods and distribution of food. We worship ‘Maa Durga’ who is the source of strength and power. Then why should we think about empowerment of rural women, particularly in the field of food and nutrition? Women act as producer, processor, storekeeper and distributor as far as agriculture and food processing is concerned. There is hardly any activity in agricultural production except ploughing in which women are not actively involved. She cooks, she serves, she thinks of other’s satisfaction, works day and night, take care of present workforce and gives us future work force, plays prime role in the development process, but ignores very often her own needs, is ignorant about her nutritional requirement and very rarely aware about the indicators of health.
If we analyze the health status of women in India, the maternal mortality rate of India is 130, but is 237 in Assam, as per National Family health Survey (2015-16). Similarly as per the same survey, Infant mortality rate of the country is 29, but 48 in Assam and 40 in Mizoram. Among the other north eastern states, Arunachal Pradesh has the lowest IMR of 24 while Manipur has 25. When we see the overall nutritional status of women in India, about 53% of women are anaemic and underweight (NFHS-4, 2015-2016). These women often give birth to underweight children who are stunted. With regard to the data in North Eastern states, Meghalaya has got the highest percentage of anaemic women (56.2%) followed by Tripura (54.5%), Assam (46%), Arunachal Pradesh (43.2%), Sikkim (34.9%), Nagaland (27.9%), Manipur (26.4%) and Mizoram (24.8). Thus women in these states are more prone to fatigue, weakness, breathlessness and eventually this affects their work performance as well. It is a well known fact that poor nutritional status often negatively affects the cognitive development of children and this gives rise to less cognitive active minds. Thus, programmes and policies specifically focusing on the lives of the north Eastern women may be framed and implemented strictly in regions where the vulnerability of women is highest for malnutrition and other related problems.
In our culture, women usually take food after all family members eat. Very often the left over food is inadequate in quality and quantity. During pregnancy and lactation women need special care and nutritious food but they pay little attention to it. Lack of education is a hindrance to development. Increase in educational level of girls will accelerate to achieve better health, upbringing of children in a scientific way, use of hygienic methods, use of nutritious food for the family, improving the status of women within the household will deliver significant improvement in the society. The religious traditions very often restricts the women to do number of rituals by restricting their food, particularly when they need special attention. Further taboos in the society or food fads or not to take different types of vegetables or leafy vegetables, etc. affects the women’s health which can be overcome by spread of nutrition education.
As in Indian culture, the guest is considered as God, whenever any guests comes, we compromise with the food of the family and the worst sufferers are the women. In this case, a nutri-sensitive garden in the backyard system and Integrated Farming System (IFS) can provide immediate solution as fruits, vegetables, mushroom, poultry and fish production, etc. will be available at the doorstep and can be used as emergency need. The strategic use of various under-utilized fruits and vegetables needs to be strengthened in the families. In the North eastern region, use of ‘sticky rice’ and variety of green leafy vegetables in the daily diet is an important feature. But some of the unhealthy food practices like regular use of sodium bicarbonate (synthetic soda) in the diet deteriorates health making people weak which can be avoided. It is worthy to mention that in some districts of Garo hills of Meghalaya usage of soda is banned now considering its harmful effects.
Teenage pregnancy is a common feature in North Eastern states. Most of the girls become mothers when their body is not ready for it which is associated with anaemia and poor health conditions thus adding to their problem. In addition to this, frequent pregnancies with less interval also adds to the women’s vulnerability. Higher total fertility rate, early births, lower rate of usage and knowledge of family planning methods, less institutional deliveries, use of unhygienic menstrual practices, poor reproductive health, lack of proper knowledge about menstruation and other reproductive health problems make the women compounded with the burden of unawareness and susceptibility to be infected with the so called ‘Silent diseases of women.’ Home deliveries by untrained rural women is another cause of maternal and infant mortality. Government has introduced many programmes like Janani Suraksha Yojana, and incentives for institutional deliveries, posting of ASHA, distribution of iron, folic acid and vitamin A tablets and proactive role of Anganwadi workers but the rural areas require the active participation from the stakeholders sides. Therefore active participation of stakeholders is required to fight with incidences of infant mortality and maternal mortality.
Lack of access by women to nutrition education and training also has a profound impact on nutrition. A public survey on hunger, conducted in the year 2011, concluded that mother’s education level determines their children‘s nutritional status and that the rates of underweight and stunted children were found to be significantly higher among mothers with lower levels of education. Women comprise about 40% of the labour force and also take up maternal roles that is central to the development of the next generation. As the role of women in society continues to evolve, it is vital to help them be the best they can be, enabling both gender equality and the benefits of improved nutrition for future generations. Women in North eastern states have a better social status as compared to the other parts of the country as evidenced in regions of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur where women are seen being active in other spheres of life. Still simple awareness programmes for food related items, conservation of nutrients, better cooking methods and increasing bio-availability of nutrients would surely result in some positive consequences.
The impact of climate change on food and nutrition security are worsening the existing inequalities in access to resources, especially for women who are primarily responsible for food production and for feeding their families. In view of the high risk of malnutrition and disease that women face at all the three critical stages of life – infancy and childhood, adolescence and reproductive phase, focused attention should be paid to meet the nutritional needs of women at all stages of the life cycle. This is also important keeping in view the critical  link between the health of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women with the health of infant and young children.
Empowerment is defined as the process by which one can have control and ownership of their lives through expansion of their choices. This is a process that moves through several stages from participation, decision making, action and ultimately to the capacity to take responsibility for those actions.
Empowering women is vital because it allows them to be better and strengthen their lives as well as the lives of their children. Women are the true mirror of social, religious, cultural and spiritual values and contributing in almost every firsts of life whether it is social, economic or political.
A holistic approach to women’s health that includes both nutrition and health services should be adopted and special attention should be given to the needs of the women and the girl at all stages of life cycle.  Special efforts need to be taken to tackle the problem of macro and micro nutrient deficiencies especially among the pregnant and lactating women as it leads to various diseases and disabilities. Widespread use of nutrition education should be made to address the issues of intra-household imbalances in nutrition.
Women play a decisive role in the food security, health and nutrition of their families and this should be taken into account in the design and targeting of policies. In recent times, Government of India has prepared a draft on National Policy for women empowerment (in the year 2019) with a priority on their education, food security and nutrition.  It has identified the priority areas of food security, nutrition, education, economy, violence against women, governance and decision making. Some of the strategies to incorporate essential nutritional interventions for mothers in the north eastern region of India are as follows:
*    Improving the quantity and nutrition level of food consumed in the household.
*    Preventing micro-nutrient deficiencies and anemia.
*    Increasing women’s access to basic nutrition and health services.
*    Improving access to water and sanitation education and facilities.
*    Empowering women to prevent pregnancies too early, too often and too close, together.
Thus, Nutrition justice will only be achieved when women are empowered and when policies and programs are gender sensitive. If we make efforts to educate girls and improve their nutrition level, we will be able to make our coming generations healthier and more prosperous. It is rightly said that we cannot end malnutrition, if we do not invest in women!!!

BRINGING INTO DISREPUTE? The murky affairs in Imphal’s Catholic School Canchipur are yet to be resolved

By- Yambem Laba

The Catholic School Canchipur, located in Imphal near the Manipur University campus, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Established in 1982, it has a student population exceeding 4000 today but even then, all isn’t well behind the high walls of the educational institution,
The first shocking incident happened when Father Mathew , the Principal, was shot dead inside the school campus on 29th April 1990. The Revolutionary People’s Front, the political wing of the proscribed People’s Liberation Army of Manipur, had written to  me that they had executed Father Mathew for his purported dealings in the narcotics (read heroin) business.
Then, on 2nd February 2001, another principal, father Tommy Manjalee was shot at but he survived the attempt on his life. Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack but it was suspected that he might have been following some non – canonical norms.
Last year cam the turn of then principal Father Soni Thomas. His was not for drug dealings but an alleged illicit affair with a lady staff member. A rumour was circulated alleging financial wrongdoing involving the principal and the Archbishop.
On 5 June 2019, Father Thomas tendered his resignation to the Archbishop relinquishing his post and everybody thought things would die a natural death as it was assumed that Father Thomas had taken moral responsibility for the alleged transgression. However, the Local Guardian Association of the Catholic School trooped to Bishop House and almost forcibly extracted the confession from the Archbishop, who then agreed to take him back.
In the meantime on 24 June 2019, Sanasam Basantkumar Meitei, computer teacher of the CSC, was summoned to Singjamei Police Station and charged with being the person who spread the rumour.
He was detained for the night in the lockup and the next morning, made to sign a confessional statement. He had to pay Rs. Three lakh to the father of the lady staff member in question.
By the second week of July, Father Thomas was reinstated, albeit unofficially, by the Local Guardians Association, led by one Naorem Jibit Meetei. Then by 22 July, he was formally reinstated as the principal of the CSC by the Archbishop.
On 18 August last year, the Kangleipak Kanba Lup, a vanguard organization of Manipur, held a press meet in Imphal and laid bare the nitty – gitty of the conversation between Father Thomas and the lady staff member. Also revealed in the press meet was the revelation that they had both the text of the conversation between Father Thomas and the lady staff member, and also an audio recording of Father Thomas alleging the Archbishop’s financial wrongdoing. There were no rejoinders of rebuttals to that effect from the Bishop House.
The Most Reverend Dominic Lumon, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Imphal, informed me on 4 September 2019 that Father Thomas was being removed and that it would happen in front of gathering of some 40 teachers of the CSC. The news was flashed in the local media the next day.
The lady staff member approached the Manipur Women’s Commission on 30 August alleging that she had been subjected to gross mental harassment while also naming Basantkumar Meitei and Ngamkheilakpa Luwang, general secretary of the Kangleipak Kanba Lup, as respondents.
The chairperson of the Manipur Women’s Commission, Meinam Binota ruled that “however as par investigation of the Commission, Sanasam Basantkumar is found not guilty, so the school authorities may resolve his Suspension Order at the earliest”.
She added that “this Commission also feels compelled to put on record tha the present issue has hampered the proper functioning of the school to a certain extent and this Commission recommends the authority concerned to end the issue sooner than later for the sake of the school and the students’ welfare”.
Thereafter Basantkumar Meitei called on the Archbishop, asking his intervention to resolve the inquiry against him. Dominic Lumon, however dodged the question stating that the Catholic Educational Society of which he was the head, is an autonomous body beyond his sphere of influence.
As things turned out, the worst nightmare of Basantkumar Meitei came true – he was terminated from service with effect from 22 November 2019. His two sons, who were students of the CSC, were also forced to seek enrolment elsewhere.
This case involving the CSC in Manipur has not been highlighted well enough. Although the Vatican’s Ambassador to India had been apprised of the entire episode, nothing concrete seems to be happening. Father Thomas has been replaced as principal by Father Stephen Touthang and the lady staff member in question has since expired due to cancer.
Now the question remains with Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai, who has been reappointed president of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India.
Will he look into this matter? Only time will tell.

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