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Self-immolation: Pebam Chittaranjan dead

G Vinayak in Guwahati | August 16, 2004 17:50 IST

Pebam Chittaranjan, 28, who attempted self-immolation on Sunday, succumbed to his injuries at Imphal this afternoon, plunging Manipur into a fresh round of turmoil.

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Chittaranjan had set himself on fire at Bishenpur, a district town, on Sunday morning to demand complete withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act. He was admitted to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in the state capital with 85 pert cent burns.

Following his death, the Apunba Lup, apex body of 32 organisations spearheading the agitation against the Act, once again launched a general strike in the Imphal valley. The strike will continue till Chittaranjan is cremated.

Curfew was clamped in Bishenpur town this morning.

The strike call by Apunba Lup comes less than 12 hours after people had come out on the streets following a 48-hour bandh.

The situation is likely to deteriorate further with a combative Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh throwing the gauntlet at the 32 organisations by saying if they cannot restore normalcy, he will be forced to reimpose the AFPSA.
AFPSA was lifted from municipal areas of Imphal last week on a trial basis.

An aggresive Ibobi Singh dared the agitationists to take up the challenge. "I took a big risk in lifting the AFPSA partially much against the advice of the Centre. It is now up to those who are protesting against this Act to show that withdrawal of the Act can bring back normalcy. If that does not happen, I may be forced to reimpose the Act," Ibobi said at a news conference after delivering a speech at the Independence Day parade on August 15.

"If any responsible citizens or organisations will guarantee that there will be no extortion, kidnapping or killings in the areas where this Act has been withdrawn, I will be able to tell the Centre to lift it from the entire state," Ibobi Singh said.
He even questioned the antecendents of Th. Manoram Devi, whose death at the hands of the Assam Rifles on July 11 triggered the current agitation in Manipur. "What is Manorama's background, what she was must be understood," the chief minister said alluding to the stand taken by the Assam Rifles that she was a hardcore militant of the banned People's Liberation Armt.

"Conducting agitations based on emotions and sentimnents will not do. The ground reality will have to be taken into consideration," Ibobi Sinbgh said.

He admitted that the current situation in the state is far from satisfactory but said it is upto the people and the organisations conducting the agitation to bring back normalcy. "Unfortunately, these organisations are infleunced by the undeground elements who are secessionists. We cannot comporomise with the integrity of Manipur and India," the chief minister said.

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