Militancy costing Manipur its tourist attractionsApril 27th, 2009 - 8:54 pm ICT by ANI
Loktak Lake (Imphal), April 27 (ANI): Manipur, literally meaning a jewelled land, has largely remained unexplored much by tourists because of militancy. One of the State’s fascinating places is Loktak Lake.
Loktak Lake, 45 kilometres from Imphal city, is the largest fresh water lake in the Northeast region with the only floating National Park of its kind.
But instead of drawing tourists, the lake has been misused as a safe haven by the militants.
Recently, operation summer storm was launched to flush out the armed militants from the lake region.
On April 10, the security forces carried out `Operation Summer Storm’ in the Lake area.
At least 12 cadres of People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) were killed and five militant camps busted, during the 10-day-long operation.
A cache of large number of arms and ammunition was also seized including six AK-series rifles.
During the operation, which was properly planned, the security personnel took precautions to prevent civilian casualties.
“Basically, the area we are cordoning, it is not an inhabitant area. The villagers who were evacuated live close by, but they were at safe distance. We have got good surveillance equipments by which we are clearly able to see the target. There have not been any collateral damages,” said Y. Joykumar, Deputy General of Police in Manipur
Nearly 3,000 villagers living on the fringes of the Loktak Lake were saftely shifted to safer places, as it’s been noticed civilians are usually the worst sufferers of militancy, either affected by the violence that is unleashed or the economic disruption that follows.
And this was the case here as tourism activities and economic activities were affected when militants took shelter in the Loktak Lake area.
Villagers near the lake wish peace and normalcy should return in the area.
“The operation that is going on in Loktak project area is the worrying the villagers. We are facing lots of problems. Our day-to-day normal life has been affected severely,” Wahengbam Hemabati, protestor.
“There is firing and its not a safe place for us anymore. So, we are moving to a safer place and taking shelter here with other relatives. Our normal lives are affected and we are not able to work or live peacefully,” said Sanatomba, villager.
“If Loktak becomes a free zone for anybody, then only we will be able to take up meaningful steps to restore its grandeur and if we retain it as such without any disturbances, then the developmental aspects and improvement of infrastructure can take place,” said H. Deleep Singh, Director Tourist department. Militants hiding at Loktak Lake area have been flushed out. And, people can now visit the Keibul Lamjoa National Park; the world’s only `floating sanctuary’ that sprawls over an area of 40 sq. km.
It is home to many exotic species of plants and animals like the Dancing Deer. (ANI)
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