Death toll goes up to 6, curfew clamped
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT & IANS
IMPHAL, Sept 1: The death toll in the Monday night rampage in Churachandpur district of Manipur went up to six today. As reports of violence filtered in from different parts of the district since Monday night, the administration imposed curfew in the area.
However, no fresh outbreak of violence has been reported till the filing of this report.
More than 35 people have sustained injuries in the violence and are now undergoing treatment in the district hospital. It has been learnt that some of the protestors sustained bullet injuries on Monday night as police had to fire to disperse the mob setting fire to a police station in Churchandpur town. Two youths died on Monday night in police firing.
Violence erupted on Monday evening following the Manipur government’s adoption of three landmark bills — Protection of Manipur People Bill 2015, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (seventh amendment) Bill 2015, and Manipur Shops and Establishment (second amendment) Bill 2015.
The bills were unimously passed in the assembly on Monday after the ruling Congress signed an agreement with the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) on August 25 to ect three laws to protect the interest of the indigenous people.
The mob on Monday evening attacked the residence of five Congress lawmakers, including that of state Health and Family Welfare Minister Phungzathang Tonsing and Outer Manipur Lok Sabha member Thangsoi Baite. However, none of the lawmakers were at their residences.
The mob on Monday evening also set afire the vehicle of Churachandpur Deputy Commissioner Lunminthang Haokip and prevented fire engines from dousing the flames, even as police were forced to resort to a baton charge.
Meanwhile, government spokesperson Moirangthem Okendra has announced that indigenous people have nothing to fear as the three bills which were passed on Monday, will not affect any community in the state. However, reacting to Okendra’s statement, some tribal student activists said that their agitation will continue till the bills are withdrawn.
Tribal civil society groups — All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM) AKuki Students Organisation (KSO) and All ga Students Association Manipur, (ANSAM) — opposed the introduction of the bills, saying they overlapped with some points in the Manipur Hill People Administration Regulation Act, 1947, meant to safeguard the interest of tribesmen in the hill areas of Manipur.
It may be mentioned that the implication of the Protection of Manipur People Bill that made 1951 as the cut-off year for classifying the indigenous people of the State, and the Land Revenue & Reforms Amendment Bill that suggested to do away with the present restriction on buying land in the hills by non-tribal, indigenous people of the state — were the major provisions strongly opposed by tribal groups, particularly the Kuki-Chin-Mizo group.
Security forces are fanning out in the sensitive areas, apprehending recurrence of mob violence which erupted after the Manipur Assembly passed three controversial bills. Agitating tribal groups allege that the bills were passed because the Okram Ibobi Singh government buckled under the pressure of the plains people.
The mob claimed that their representatives deliberately failed to protect their interests. Reports confirmed the death of six people, one in police firing, one trapped in a burning home of a legislator, one in a road accident in the time of arson while other bodies were found in Churachandpur town.
Meanwhile, the Kuki Students’ Organization imposed an indefinite blockade on the legalized border trade with Myanmar at border town Moreh from today.
Imphal has turned into a security fortress with deployment of additiol security personnel in the capital city. Local residents, mostly in Churachandpur, are keeping themselves confined to their homes fearing fresh violence on Tuesday. The authorities have asked the security forces to heavily guard all the residences belonging to state and central legislators.