Oct 11, 2006 at 03:17pm IST

Militants ban birth control in NE

Guwahati: From asking people to stop family planning to ordering liquor shop owners to revise their business timings, separatist guerrilla groups in the Northeast are enthusiastically taking on the role of moral police.

The outlawed People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), a rebel group fighting for an independent homeland for the majority Meiteis in Manipur, has exhorted locals not to practise birth control measures.

“Encouraging birth control measures by New Delhi is nothing but attempts by New Delhi to allow influx of outsiders to the state and marginalise indigenous communities. The need of the hour is to increase our own population,” the PREPAK said in a statement on its 29th foundation day.

NEW ROLE: Separatist guerrilla groups in the Northeast are enthusiastically taking on the role of moral police.

“Abortion and birth control among the ethnic communities of Manipur will be like digging our own graves,” the rebel statement warned.

There are more than 19-odd rebel armies in Manipur pushing for demands ranging from independence to more autonomy. The outlawed Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) has launched Operation New Kangleipak aimed at cleansing the state’s education system.

At least 20 teachers were shot in their legs in the past two years on charges of either bunking classes or allowing students to use unfair means in examinations.

Some were also punished for allegedly indulging in corruption. Last year, armed KYKL rebels kidnapped Manipur University Vice Chancellor N Bijoy Singh and Registrar RK Ranjan and later let them off with gunshots in their legs.

The rebels said Singh and Ranjan were ‘punished’ as they had violated norms for appointment of a university official. Another teacher was paraded before journalists with the KYKL barring him from teaching for “life” saying he “neglected” his profession.

Other rebel groups have ordered capital punishment to drug traffickers and addicts - at least five drug dealers were shot dead.

Police and locals say the rebel groups’ decision to reform society was nothing but moves to whip up public sentiments by raking up sensitive issues like education and drug addiction.

Taking a cue from Manipuri rebels, the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) last week ordered all liquor shops should be open only between 1400 hrs (IST) and 1900 hrs (IST) with no business on Sunday.

But despite the diktat, shops are maintaining their earlier schedule. “These are things aimed at getting cheap publicity,” a shop owner said.