"Please do not kill me yet. I have only just become a minister after having
lost three previous elections and am still learning (the job). Please tell me how to serve
the interests of the people and please do not ask me to resign (from the state assembly),
for that amounts to surrendering my commitment to the voters."
—M. Hemanta Singh, Manipur’s minister of state for sport and youth affairs, at a rally in Imphal in January.
Never before in the decade-and-a-half- old insurgency problem in the Manipur valley, has the fear of death stalked its leaders to such an extent. Last month, Chief Minister Rishang Keishing wrote to each of the ministers and 55 M L As , including those from the Opposition, asking them not to move within and outside the capital, Imphal, unless provided with adequate security.
A majority of them have since refused to even step out of the fortified Babupara Colony, where most ministers and M L As live. Others, including Opposition leader and former Manipur People’s Party (M P P) chief minister R.K. Ranbir Singh, who have not been accommodated at Babupara, are crying foul and demanding Keishing’s resignation. The fear psychosis stems from an ultimatum served to each minister and M L A in January by the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Front (R P F) , asking them to resign from the assembly or face death at the hands of its armed wing, the People’s Liberation A rmy (P L A) .
Prior to the diktat, the R P F asked select ministers close to the chief minister to resign by December 31 as the government had "failed" to secure four "popular" demands of the Manipuris. The militants want the government to:
- Lift the 100-year- old garrisoning— since colonial times— of the "sacred" Kangla Fort in Imphal, once the seat of spiritual and temporal power of the...