Imphal, Jan 25: Hitting a campaign trail in the Northeaster state of Manipur, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said she is against the continuation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFPSA) in the state and to send the message that she would walk the talk also met human rights activist Irom Sharmila in hospital.
On an election campaign visit to Manipur, Mamata said if elected to power in the state, she would ensure that there is no consent from her side to the draconian AFPSA in the state. "I had a talk with Irom Sharmila," she told an election rally after meeting the "Iron Lady of Manipur" who since Nov 2000 has been on hunger strike (she is forced fed in a hospital) to demand that the Indian government repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) to end violence in the region.
Mamata said she loves Army people also and it is not their fault that Army is deployed there. "Army rule cannot bring peace. Development is the answer," she told the gathering. She said tourism will be promoted in Manipur if her party is brought to power. She said the people of the region should be taken into confidence for a solution.
She said her government has started development work in Jungalmahal in West Bengal and "are offering package there" after coming to power and she would replicate the same in Manipur to woo the disgruntled groups. "If Darjeeling can smile, Manipur can also smile," she said, reminding the people that she has thrashed out a peace formula in West Bengal's Darjeeling hills. "I want to see a young Manipur. If our party comes to power we set up expert committee to ensure that all draconian laws are removed. We will protect human right and work for human resource development. We will issue farmers' credit card," she said. Trinamool Congress has only one member in the outgoing assembly. This time it is contesting 47 to 48 of the 60 seats in Manipur which is going to polls on Jan 28. Trinamool candidates will fight Congress in Manipur despite being an ally at the centre and West Bengal.