The year was eventful for Manipur as the controversial AFSPA and liquor prohibition, imposed for many years, were partially lifted under the regime of BJP-led Chief Minister N Biren Singh.
Notably, the year 2022 marked the northeastern state of Manipur winning the most improved small state for the third consecutive time after surpassing other northeastern states with its performance in eight out of 12 categories, revealed a study by India Today.
This comes after Manipur outperformed other northeastern states by scoring 1,219.5 out of 2000 followed by Mizoram at 1,147.6, Arunachal Pradesh at 1,142.8, Sikkim at 1,124.1, Nagaland at 1,066.9, Meghalaya 1,034.1 and Tripura 960.5 in the recently held states of the state award.
The year 2022 also marked a record turnout of 90.28 per cent of voters in polling for 60 assembly seats in two phases held on February 28 and March 5.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah campaigning in the state, the saffron party made history in the polls, bagging 32 seats, 11 more than its tally in the 2017 elections, when it had formed the government in the northeastern state for the first time.
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The Congress, on the other hand, performed poorly, winning only five seats, down from 28 in the previous polls.
Several key decisions were taken in the first year of the second term of the BJP government in the state.
Notably, the Ministry of Home Affairs on March 31, 2022, removed the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 from the jurisdiction of 15 police stations in six districts of Manipur.
The move was welcomed by all quarters but the NPF and the Congress demanded the withdrawal of AFSPA from across the state. The partial withdrawal of the controversial Act did not cover Naga or Kuki-inhabited districts.
The Act, labelled as “draconian” by rights activists, gives extraordinary power to security forces to search premises, and arrest without a warrant, in areas declared as “disturbed”.
In June, the state Cabinet gave its nod to adopt 1961 as the base year for determining the “native” status of people for effective implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Manipur.
ILP came into force in the state on January 1, 2020, after years of demand by various social organisations. Tragedy struck the state at midnight on June 30 when a massive landslide occurred at the Tupul railway yard on the under-construction Jiribam-Imphal line.
Fifty-eight people, including 29 army jawans of the 107th Territorial Army, were killed in the incident and 18 others were injured. The National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force were deployed and the intense rescue operation was finally called off on July 20.
Ethnic tensions too flared up in August, after the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM), the apex body of the state’s tribal students, imposed an economic blockade on the highways of the landlocked state demanding tabling of the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill, 2021, which could give greater administrative autonomy to the hill areas of the state. The administration suspended mobile internet services across the state for several days after a vehicle was set ablaze in the Bishnupur district.
On the other hand, Meitei Leepun, a Valley-based civil body, locked the Imphal office of ATSUM claiming that the blockade was aimed at inconveniencing the residents of the Valley.
The state government took a bold move in September 2022 by lifting the prohibition on the manufacture and sale of liquor from specific areas to boost revenue and prevent the consumption of illicit liquor.
The prohibition was lifted from district headquarters, hotels with at least 20-bed lodging facilities and security camps, while transportation of liquor required the production of a receipt. The move evoked mixed reactions, with certain sections expressing happiness, while others such as social bodies Coalition of Drugs and Alcohol (CADA) and Nupi Samaj, condemned the move and periodically organised sit-in demonstrations demanding the revocation of the decision.
Several insurgents also surrendered before the chief minister during the year.
In November, 31 militants from five outfits laid down their arms, while 14 insurgents of another organisation surrendered in June.
Meanwhile, with the year coming to an end, condemning the state government for not taking up any initiative to fulfil their assurance made in connection with the pending demands of the doctors of the state, the All Manipur Health Services Doctors’ Association (AMHSDA), resolved to begin an OPD closure strike if the state government fails to translate their words into action by December 31.
The AMHSDA said that as a part of an ongoing movement launched over the last past two years urging to fulfil some basic demands, the association recently decided to close down OPD service for two days from December 27.
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