Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is understood to have advised Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi to restrain the media-friendly Deputy Chief Minister, G. Gaikhangam, as his contradictory statements have caused more confusion among the people. Mr. Shinde also questioned the need for clamping night curfew in the State. For, there is no night life in Manipur in view of insurgency-related lawlessness and volunteers enforcing the general strike are not seen after nightfall.
Mr. Ibobi went to Delhi to ascertain the Centre’s stand on the arrest of R.P. Livingstone, a self-styled Lt .Col. of the NSCN(I-M). Manipur has been seeing protests demanding the arrest of Livingstone, who allegedly misbehaved with an actress during a function.
The NSCN(I-M) has been holding talks with the Union government after signing a ceasefire agreement on June 25, 1997. According to Mr. Gaikhangam, police and Assam Rifles have been instructed to arrest Livingstone. He said some personnel of the Assam Rifles had gone to a peace camp of the NSCN(I-M) located in Chandel district. However, camp officials told them that Livingstone was not there. Journalists wanted to know whether there are peace camps, notwithstanding the fact that the ceasefire is not extended to Manipur. To this, the Deputy Chief Minister said the State government did not “recognise the existence of peace camps.”
He said there were police and Assam Rifles personnel at the time of the assault incident.
The government had suspended the policemen and VDF personnel for dereliction of duty.
The Deputy Chief Minister said the Assam Rifles had been instructed to close down the peace camp. However, the Assam Rifles cannot close down a peace camp opened by the Union Home Ministry.
To cap it all, in a release on Saturday night, the Manipur government said Chief Secretary D.S. Poonia had written a letter to Union Home Secretary R.P. Singh requesting him to hand over Livingstone since he faces charges of molestation and assault of an actress and opening fire on two other artistes.
The organisations enforcing the general strike have noted these discrepancies.