The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ibobi balm fails to soothe

Imphal, Aug. 14: Violence rocked greater Imphal today during a dawn-to-dusk bandh in support of complete withdrawal of the Disturbed Areas Act from Manipur.

The Okram Ibobi Singh government on Thursday withdrew the “disturbed” tag from Imphal municipal area, but this hardly came as a balm for a state convulsing in anger.

Clashes between police and protesters erupted in many parts of the twin districts of Imphal East and West during the curfew relaxation hours today. More than 10 protesters and some police personnel were hospitalised. Roadblocks were put up and tyres burnt at major intersections in the capital. When police personnel rushed to douse the fire and clear the blockades, they were greeted with stones and catapult “bullets”.

In return, the police personnel fired teargas shells, rubber bullets and exploded stun bombs. Some protesters alleged that police had fired real bullets in certain places.

Barring the protesters, all roads in the greater Imphal area were deserted. Shops, business houses and educational institutions remained closed in the bandh-affected areas. Government offices were nearly paralysed.

Apunba Lup, the umbrella body of 32 organisations leading the protest, today announced another series of agitation programmes, including boycott of Indian products coming from outside the northeastern states.

Three spokespersons of the Apunba Lup demanded a probe into the excesses committed by security forces in Manipur and punishment of those found guilty. They alleged that more than 700 people were wounded in police crackdown today.

They also demanded an inquiry into the human rights violation by security forces under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act since it was imposed for the first time in 1961 in Tamenglong district.

The entire state of Manipur was brought under the “disturbed area” tag on September 8, 1980.

Demanding lifting of the act from the Northeast, the Apunba Lup said from August 16 people of Manipur would stop using products coming from outside the region.

As a first step, the people would stop taking soft drinks and mineral water. The agitation will intensify from Tuesday. The Apunba Lup also demanded that all the ministers and MLAs resign.

The government has clamped a ban on telecast of news programmes by Imphal-based cable TV network, ISTV.

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