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Centre may pull out Assam Rifles
August 11, 2004 14:41 IST
The Centre is open to withdrawal of Assam Rifles from Manipur, Home Minister Shivraj Patil said on Wednesday.
"The Assam Rifles has carried out its duties properly in the state. But if the people of Manipur have a problem with the force, we can move the troops from there," he said.
"However, it is not something that can be done today or tomorrow," he said after inaugurating a National Institute of Disaster Management building.
The minister ruled out any differences with Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on the issue, saying he was confident that the latter never said that Assam Rifles could not be moved out of Manipur.
Patil's statement comes a day after Mukherjee said, "No, it is not correct to say that there is any move to withdraw the Assam Rifles. My colleague Patil has been misunderstood on this subject. It is not possible to remove this force."
The state has been on the boil for last one month after the custodial death of a woman, Th Manorama Devi
The structural command of Assam Rifles lies with the Union home ministry but its operational command lies with the defence ministry.
Patil refused to confirm if the Border Security Force will be deployed in the state. "I do not want to go into details of these reports. Rest assured, whatever help is required, whatever forces are required, will be provided."
Patil also downplayed the August 15 deadline given by protestors for withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which gives sweeping powers to the army and paramilitary, and said the people of Manipur were "wise and peace-loving".
On the withdrawal of AFSPA, Patil said, "It is a legal question and I cannot comment off-hand like that."
On the woman's death, he said necessary action has been initiated and the "guilty will not be spared".
More reports from Manipur
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