The strike launched by some government employees in Manipur since January 16, demanding revised pay scale as recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission has started fizzling out.

The non-gazetted employees of J.N. Hospital formally withdrew from the affiliation to the Joint Administrative Council (JAC) on Friday, giving a crippling blow to the All Manipur Trade Unions Council and the All Manipur Government Employees Organisation, which were behind the strike.

The government had announced that the 80,000 employees could not hold the people to ransom and the employees in the essential services would be booked if they resorted to strike.

However, some employees of J.N. Hospital went on strike. Police arrested 12 employees on Thursday under the Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1984.

Some other employees who courted arrest were, however, released later in the night.

On Friday, the non-gazetted employees held a meeting to take stock of the situation and decided to resume duty immediately on the condition that the 12 employees be released.

Following an agreement, the government set free the employees late on Friday night. The hospital authorities said normal work had commenced in the hospital.

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi said the government would pay the revised pay scale and pension from April.

The demand for payment of the arrears with retrospective effect from January 2006 could not be considered since it would involve Rs. 1,000 crore and the State exchequer did not have that much money.

The JAC had tried to justify the strike, saying enough money was paid by the Union government for the additional payment.

Arms haul

Amid these developments, police commandos of Thoubal district recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition belonging to the banned People's Liberation Army, military wing of the Revolutionary People's Front after the arrest of a member identified as Thokchom Biren (43) of Ushangkhong.

Talking to journalists, Clay Khongshai, Superintendent of Police of the district, said that following the arrest one AK 56 rifle, four 9 mm pistols, 20 Chinese made hand grenades and assorted ammunition were recovered.

The arrested person was being interrogated.

Meanwhile, women vigilantes staged a sit-in. They were protesting against the lobbing of a hand grenade in the house of T. Sumanta, a pradhan, on Thursday night in connection with extortion bids.

Alleged rape of girl

A four-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a 55-year-old man, her neighbour, on Thursday, a delayed police report said.

The accused, who is absconding, was identified as Chongtham Opendra of Iroishemba Maning Leikai. He allegedly raped the girl when she came to watch television in his house.

There was no other family member at that time.

Local residents stormed the house of the accused. Property were vandalised and there were attempts to torch the house.

However the mob was controlled by the IRB troopers from the nearby post.

Police have registered a case and have launched a manhunt for Opendra.