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Cash reward on molester

- Manipur declares Livingstone ‘wanted’; suspends cops; extends curfew

Imphal, Dec. 24: The Manipur government today declared NSCN (Isak-Muivah) cadre R.P. Livingstone, who allegedly molested actress Momoco, “wanted” and announced a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh for his arrest or information leading to his arrest.

The government also suspended two police personnel and eight village defence force members for yesterday’s firing that killed freelance video journalist Thangjam Dwijamani, aka Nanao, 32. The police had fired at a group of protesters that was torching a truck carrying civilians at Sinam Leikai in Imphal West district. A bullet hit the scribe who was filming the incident.

Manipur deputy chief minister Gaikhangam, who is also the home minister, today said the police did not have orders to fire. “No order was given to the state forces to shoot while controlling violent protests. Yesterday’s firing was without orders.”

The order on Livingstone was issued this evening by special secretary, state home department, Devesh Deval. Another order issued by the government identified the police personnel as assistant sub-inspector of police N. Herojit and constable Kh. Navakumar Singh and the eight village defence force members as A.K. Boy Singh, Kh. Joykumar, S. Sameer Singh, Kh. Bipin, P. Ajit, S. Nanao, K. Shantikumar and Y. Bimol Singh.

The government also constituted a three-member inquiry committee, headed by the principal secretary, home, Suresh Babu, today to probe the journalist’s death. It will submit its report within a week.

The curfew imposed in Imphal West and Imphal East since Saturday evening has been extended till 6am tomorrow (after a five-hour relaxation till 11am today). Curfew was also imposed in two other valley districts of Thoubal and Bishnupur from 11am till 6am tomorrow.

The curfew was extended as violent protests continued despite relaxation of the statewide indefinite strike called by the Film Forum Manipur and Manipur State Shumang Leela Council to protest the alleged molestation of the actress during a concert at Chandel district headquarters on December 18 evening.

Film forum chairman L. Surjakanta had yesterday announced the relaxation of the strike from midnight last night till December 26 midnight in view of Christmas.

However, a joint action committee formed by the residents of Ghari, Momoco’s locality in Imphal West district, and some film artistes, rejected the relaxation of the strike.

The police had to lob teargas shells to disperse protesters who attacked Surjakanta’s house at Nagamapal in Imphal city and damaged windowpanes. Police personnel were deployed around the house throughout the day.

The police also lobbed teargas shells and fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters in Imphal East and Imphal West, including Dwijamani’s village of Sinam Leikai. The villagers have formed a joint action committee to demand punishment for Livingstone and the police personnel involved in the firing.

One bus was damaged and a two-wheeler burnt in Imphal West. Civil society groups, including United Committee, Manipur and All Manipur United Clubs Organisation, said the decision to relax the strike was taken after consultation among citizens’ groups, the film forum and the Shumang Leela Council.

The coordination committee of seven militant groups of Manipur today appreciated relaxation of the strike and appealed to organisations and communities not to do anything that would disturb the Christmas celebrations.

The United Naga Council, Manipur, today declared a 72-hour “bandh” in all Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur from December 26 midnight against the “attack on Christmas celebrations and Nagas” by the valley people on the pretext of protesting the alleged Chandel molestation. It also imposed an indefinite ban on all Manipuri video and music CDs/cassettes, dramas and shumang leelas in the Naga areas with immediate effect.


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