‘Manipur has a special place in the country’

The north-eastern States had not reaped the socio-economic benefits of the Five Year Plans and there was need for a collective leadership to deliver them to people, President Pranab Mukherjee said here on Monday.

He was speaking at the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Adim Jati Shiksha Ashram, which was inaugurated by the first President, Rajendra Prasad.

Mr. Mukherjee said now there were the Right To Education Act, jobs and soon food would also be covered. He praised the Ashram’s contribution in education and vocational trainings to students. “Manipur has a special place in the country. It was the last princely State that had to surrender to the British. The spirit of independence and sovereignty is not extinguished in north-east. It was the first State which was liberated from the British by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose with his Indian National Army. The flag of independence was first hoisted at Moirang in Bishnupur district.”

The President inaugurated two hostels — one for boys and the other for girls in the ashram complex. He also laid the foundation stone for another hostel.

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh termed the President’s visit a proud moment for the State. He spoke of the significant role played by the Ashram in the last 60 years.

The President’s visit comes amid a strike and a public curfew called by underground organisations. Attendance in the State and Union government offices was almost nil. All educational institutions, banks, shops and business establishments were shut down. All vehicles, except those belonging to the essential services and social and religious functions exempted by the underground organisations, were off the road.

Mr. Mukherjee arrived at the Tulihal airport at 4:30 p.m. Governor Gurubachan Jagat, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, Ministers, MLAs, top police and civil officials were present. He will leave Imphal on Tuesday.Police, security forces and men from intelligence agencies were on round-the-clock duty around Raj Bhavan and nearby localities. Even bona fide journalists were not allowed to take mobile phones while attending the functions in which the President was present.