Pressure mounts to exclude non-Manipuris from civic poll

Imphal: : Pressure is mounting on the Manipur government to exclude non-Manipuris from participation in the June 2 Imphal Municipal Council elections. The demand to disenfranchise non-Manipuris has been made by the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) which has imposed a 42-hour shutdown here since Thursday midnight.  The JCILPS and other activists have demanded that non-Manipuris must not be allowed to contest the elections or cast their votes.  However, senior government officials said that the voters' list has already been published and it cannot be altered now.  The government too is maintaining silence on the sensitive issue, as it cannot take away the voting rights of citizens only because they are non-Manipuris. However, activists of the JCILPS have said that if non-Manipuris are allowed to contest the local elections then the state might one day resemble Tripura where the local people have been outnumbered by outsiders. They also claimed that in certain wards of Imphal, the Manipuris are fewer in number than the non-Manipuris. The agitation to exclude non-Manipuris from the election process shall continue, they said.  Meanwhile, the Democratic Students' Alliance of Manipur has opposed the appointment of Dinesh Kumar, a non-Manipuri and student of the National Institute of Technology here, as an engineer.  Kumar was selected by the Manipur Public Service Commission (MPSC) through a test for appointment of assistant engineers. His name appears on the merit list at serial number 3. However, the students' body has said that he belonged to the Andaman and Nicobar islands and cannot be allowed to take up the job in Manipur. Under pressure from the students and locals, the MPSC was recently forced to add 'knowledge of Manipuri language' as a mandatory criterion for government jobs in Manipur.