The Manipur government on Wednesday declared the entire state a "disturbed area" barring 19 specific police station areas -- in light of the prevailing law and order situation. As per the notification, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or AFSPA has been extended by another six months in the entire state, except for the designated 19 police stations falling in the Imphal valley and an area that shares its boundary with neighbouring Assam.
This essentially means the Army and Assam Rifles cannot operate inside the areas under the 19 police stations without the consent of the state police. Security officials have been advocating bringing the entire state under AFSPA. Significantly, the areas that have been kept out of the purview of AFSPA are dominated by the majority Meitei community which includes Jiribam, adjacent to Silchar valley of Assam.
The security agencies have been warning that banned terror groups have been setting up base in the Imphal valley. As against this, the extension of AFSPA in the hill areas is of less consequence as more than 20 terror groups from the tribal areas had entered into an agreement with the Centre and the state government.
Protest rallies were held in Imphal on Wednesday with thousands of students marching towards city centre for the second consecutive day on Wednesday, protesting the kidnapping and killing of two youths. The slaying of the two youths will be investigated by the CBI; however the decision to rope in the central agency has failed to calm down the protestors.
The police had initially said the whereabouts of the two was not known and their mobile phones were switched off. "This rally is against the prompt action of the CBI into the killing of the two teenagers, who were in love and had eloped. However, there were many incidents of tribal women being raped, paraded naked and our men being killed but no CBI inquiry was conducted. "Why this bias against us? We demand a CBI inquiry into incidents of violence against tribals," an activist said.