IMPHAL, Oct 27 : Works Minister K Ranjit who went to inspect the Senapati mini-Secretariat was stopped from returning to Imphal by women activists of SHDDC and kept under virtual siege along with his team at Kangpokpi today.
The Works Minister and his team were however ‘rescued’ by a huge team of Imphal West police commandos later in the evening at about 8.
A strong posse of police commandos, made up of 35 teams comprising six cops in each team and led by the SSP of Imphal West police rushed to Kangpokpi and managed to clear the way for the Minister and his men. The police team had to fire tear gas shells to disperse the womenfolk and open fire in the air while escorting Ranjit out of Kangpokpi.
A woman received a bullet injury on her right thigh.
Following the intense stand off at Kangpokpi a Mini-truck belonging to the BRTF was set on fire at Sa-permeina at about 8.15 pm.
The bullet proof vehicle win which Ranjit was travelling was also hit by a bullet. This was confirmed by police while inspecting the damages on the glass of the vehicle at Imphal. The Minister said that this was an attempt on his life and the shot was fired deliberately.
Chairperson of Sadar Hills Women Union, Ngan-boi Momin said that the Minister refused to entertain their plea to have a brief talk and instead asked a senior officer of the district administration to talk with the womenfolk.
The request to talk was conveyed when the team arrived at Kangpokpi after the inspection at Senapati.
The conduct of the Minister was strongly decried by the womenfolk, said Momin.
Our reporter who went to cover the Minister’s inspection tour informed that the Minister and his team were returning from Sena-pati when they were blocked by a large number of women at Kangpokpi Bazar at about 3 pm. The women piled up boulders and stood in rows on the highway holding festoons.
In addition to his security escorts, Ranjit’s team was also accompanied by the Senapati SP and SDPO.
The team halted about 100 metres away from the spot where the highway was being blockaded.
Then the SP and the SDPO went ahead to talk with the blockaders but the latter insisted that they would talk with the Minister himself. At this, the SP asked the protesters to select two or three leaders to talk with the Minister.
Subsequently, K Ranjit talked with three women activists. They demanded that Sadar Hills district should be officially declared before the election.
The Minister responded by saying that the Government has genuine intention to declare Sadar Hills as a full fledged district but it cannot be done in haste.
The women urged Ranjit to give a written assurance that Sadar Hills district would be created but he declined . As the negotiation was on, women blockaders who were not present at the negotiation started shouting the slogan “We want Sadar Hills district”.
As the Minister’s team retracted beyond Kang-pokpi bridge, the women blockaders opened the highway and let other vehicles move. Nevertheless, they checked all the vehicles.
In the meantime, another group of women blockaded the highway on Taphou Kuki side.
At about 6 pm, four women came from Taphou Kuki side and asked the Works Minister to declare Sadar Hills as a full fledged district by November 10.
They also asked why Kangpokpi ADC building has not been inaugurated yet though the construction work has been completed whereas the Government is planning to inaugurate Senapati mini-Secretariat on November 2.
To this, Ranjit explained that the Government was planning to inaugurate the Kangpokpi ADC building first but it could not materialise because of bandhs and blockades.
The ADC office can be inaugurated before the mini Secretariat if the people wish so, Ranjit said.
Again, when Ranjit said ‘ADC office building, Kangpokpi’, the women activists insisted that it should be spelt as ‘Sadar Hills DC office building’.
To the repeated insistence of the women activists to give a written assurance for declaring Sadar Hills as a full fledged district by November 10, Ranjit explained that his assurance would serve no purpose as Cabinet decision is mandatory for creation of a district.
The Minister and his team are currently stranded on the highway under a situation of virtual siege.
Earlier, after observing the little progress made in the portion of the Senapati mini Secretariat which would be occupied by district level officers, the Works Minister stated that due procedures would be initiated to blacklist the concerned contractor.
Yet, Ranjit maintained that all efforts would be put in to ensure that everything is ready before November 2 when Union Home Minister P Chidambaram would inaugurate the building.
Saying that the mini-secretariat is a property of Senapati public, he invited all and one to the inaugural function.
Source: The Sangai Express