TODAY -
No collateral damage:GOC,DGP
'Ops Summer Storm' to continue until lake is cleared of UGs

Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, April 17 2009: Army authority today denied causing collateral damages to the people and Sangai (brow antlered deer) by the ongoing "Operation Summer Storm" that killed 12 underground activists mostly of PREPAK and destroyed five UG camps since it started on April 10 in the south western part of the Loktak lake.

General Commanding Officer (GOC), 57 Moutain Division, Major General Shakti Gurung said, "There is no question of collateral damage because the troops are hitting the targets only after carefully conducted aerial survey with sophisticated equipments".

The security forces are using three army helicopters and Unmanned Arial Vehicle (UAV) during the operations.

"Our boys strike after pin-pointing the exact hideouts of the militants in the interior lake area," Maj Gen Shakti Gurung said adding that the villagers nearby the operational areas were first evacuated so as not to get caught in the cross fire or hit by stray bullets.

The GOC was addressing a press conference along with the Director General of Police, Yumnam Joykumar, IPS at the Banquet Hall of 1st Manipur Rifles here.

He said that people were not displaced owing to the ongoing operations but they have been transported to safer areas temporarily for their own safety.

Troops take utmost care and restraint in fighting with the militants taking shelter in the phumdis (floating biomass) in the lake.

The clear example was that of rounding up of a woman, who is the wife of a militant and her minor child on the third day of the operation, he said.

At least 12 militants, most of them PREPAK, have been eliminated in the operation in the Loktak lake apart from busting as many as five camps, said Major General Shakti Gurung.

So far six AK-series rifles, one lathode launcher, one 9mm mauser pistol, two 9 mm pistols along with huge quantities of ammunition have been recovered by the combined forces comprising the state police commandos, troops of Assam Rifles and 4/5 Gorkha Rifles.

He strongly denied the allegation of causing huge damage to the properties of the villagers as well as to the Sangai in the Keibul Lamjao National Park.

Mention may be made that villagers residing in the surrounding areas of Loktak lake have been demanding immediate suspension of the "Operation Summer Storm' launched by the combined security forces of Army, Assam Rifles and state police commandos alleging that the operation has not only displaced thousands of villagers but has also affected the habitation of the Sangai in the world's only floating national park, Keibul Lamjao.

Around 2000 people residing on the phumdis (floating biomass) who fled home fearing of getting caught in the cross fire are taking shelter at relief camps and other places in Moirang and Ethai areas.

The villagers have expressed serious concern over the uncertain fate of the Sangais.

They are afraid many Sangai would have been killed during the numerous firing of bombs.

A large number of villagers of Nongmaikhong, Ethai and Khordak villages had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister, O Ibobi yesterday and urged him to stop the operation immediately.

The GOC said, the operation is still going on successfully as many areas in the lake believed to be hideouts of the insurgents are yet to be taken control of by the security forces, adding that the security forces are targeting to complete it at the earliest.

Speaking at the press conference, DGP of Manipur, Y Joykumar refuted the allegations that boatmen were used as human shield, and clarified that the report is not true.

He said, "If we use boatmen, our plan might be leaked".

The DGP further said that the ongoing joint operations conducted by Army, Assam Rifles and state police in Loktak lake areas is the sixth of its kind in the recent time in a move to flush out the militants.


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