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All parties forum against ceasefire extension formed

IMPHAL, JULY 4. An `all political parties forum' comprising nine parties of Manipur was formed today to fight against the extension of the Centre-NSCN(I-M) ceasefire to the State, its convenor, Mr. G. Joykumar Sharma, said.

The parties are BJP, Samata Party, Janata Dal(U), Janata Dal, Janata Party, Manipur State Congress Party (Nipamacha), Manipur State Congress Party (Chaoba), Federal Party of Manipur and NCP.

Mr. Haobam Bhuban Singh, senior BJP leader and MLA, was elected the forum's chairman, Mr. Sharma said in a statement.

The forum would act as coordinator of various organisations and groups which are demanding immediate withdrawal of the ceasefire from the State and its line of action would be declared soon, he said.

Two representatives from each party would be included in the executive committee of the forum, he added.

Stir spreads

Meanwhile, the anti-ceasefire stir today spread to West Imphal district with over 10,000 protesters holding a rally defying prohibitory orders while over 5000 women vendors held a sit-in demonstration at Khwairamband, the largest market in the State.

The rallyists, including Nagas and Kukis, held a public meeting at Konthoujam, near here, and pledged to `protect Manipur territory at all cost', official sources said.

Large-scale protests were also reported from different areas of the State during the curfew relaxation period, the sources said.

Security across the State was tight with intensive patrolling by Manipur Rifles and the police, who were also deployed at all strategic points in town areas.

Reports from the districts said very few people turned up for the rallies organised by the United Naga Council in some hill areas to welcome the ceasefire.

MLA's house attacked

Armed militants attacked the private residence of the former Manipur Rural Development Minister, Mr. N. Bihari Singh, at Khurai in Imphal East district, official sources said today.The militants opened fire at the gate of Mr. Singh's house last night but no one was hurt in the incident.

Mr. Singh, a BJP MLA, who had suffered injuries when angry demonstrators set afire the State Assembly building on June 18, is undergoing treatment at Safdarjang hospital in Delhi, family sources said.

The sources said that the militants escaped under cover of darkness after firing several rounds. This was the second attack on the house of a legislator in the past three days.

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