People of Manipur welcome the New Year 2017 with positive expectations by bidding good bye to the year 2016 that faded away experiencing chaos and woes.
The unfortunate year 2016 had moments for the people to consume the cuisine catalyst potato at Rs. 100 per kg, fill the vehicles with the petrol fuel at Rs. 300 and refill empty cooking gas cylinder at Rs. 2,800 above and beyond experiencing violent incidents.
Chief minister Okram Ibobi wished for peace, prosperity and happiness to the people in a statement released on the last day of the old year. Okram Ibobi in his statemet said the New Year’s Day is not only an occasion for introspection but also for searching and evolving new resolutions for the coming year. As we enters the new year, we must resolve to fight and defeat the evil designs of divisive and disruptive forces, and consolidate and support the forces of solidarity and harmony, added the chief minister.
The past year witnessed a continuing 60 days of economic blockade called by United Naga Council allegedly against the government for disturbing the vision of Naga Integration. The economic blockade was countered by another blockade. There were scarcities of essential commodities in the state.
In the midst of rising tension of outbreak of communal clash the state government started inaugurating the headquarters of the newly formed seven districts which the UNC and Naga bodies alleged it as the bifurcation of Naga inhabited villages.
On December 15, three state security persons were killed and eight injured in two separate ambushes on two road opening parties at Lokchao and Bongyang carried out by suspected NSCN-IM cadre hours before the inauguration of the new district, Tengnoupal which was carved out of Chandel district by the Okram Ibobi Singh government.
There had been increasing tension of outbreak of communal clash. People of Khuari area in Imphal East district stopped people ferrying people towards Ukhrul and burnt down 22 vehicles. Soon after the incident, a goodwill mission was launched by a group of civil society organisations to lessen any tension created in the midst. The mission group and other apex civil society organisations, and church leaders appealed the UNC to withdraw its indefinite blockade and arrive to a solution with the government by alternative means. There were massive protest and appeal from various quarters to end the blockade.
Following the Khurai episode the state government ordered to shut down mobile internet connections for two weeks throughout the state till December 30 morning and imposed curfews in Imphal East and Imphal West districts in different intervals.
On October 24, Ibobi Singh and his team escaped unhurt when unidentified gunmen opened fire at the helicopter carrying the chief minister and his entourage at Bakshi ground helipad near Ukhrul town. The team was to inaugurate an incomplete hospital and launch other development projects despite people’s protest. A Manipur Rifles jawan was injured in the incident.
The year 2016 saw rights crusader Irom Chanu Sharmila leaving her almost 16 years long fast unto death demanding repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958. She had changed her strategy by joining politics. She launched a new political party People Resurgence and Justice Alliance on October 18 and announced to contest in Thoubal Assembly Constituency in the coming assembly election against the chief minister Okram Ibobi.
Besides the long queues seen in front of petrol pumps, long queues were seen in front of banks, post offices and ATMs due to demonetisation. One pensioner of 70 years of age collapsed in a queue in front of head post office in Imphal and succumbed on December 5.
The old year had witnessed shutting down of news publications in different occasions. One of such was seen when publishers alleged demonetisation brought shortage of cash to run their media houses. In another instant, the media fraternity stopped a day’s duty and came out on the street on December 27 to protest against threatening the office of Pandam, a Manipuri evening daily by placing a hand grenade at its office.
“The New Year will not help bring peace in the state until and unless people have the love for the state”, said a 90 years old man talking to Pothashang.