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Senapati group lifts blockade

Protesters damage a vehicle at Kanglatongbi in Senapati district on Saturday. (PTI)

Imphal, April 20: Traffic and supplies resumed this afternoon along the Imphal-Dimapur highway after residents of Kanglatongbi, who were agitating over the rape of a minor and death of a protester in police firing, lifted the three-day-old blockade.

A joint action committee of Kanglatongbi in Senapati district lifted the blockade after the officer in-charge of Sekmai police station, inspector K. Geetchandra, was suspended in connection with the firing.

The police officer was held responsible for the firing on protesters on Friday night killing Tijuk Poudel, 19, and injuring two others.

A 13-year-old was raped by a 65-year-old contractor, S. Mapuni, on the outskirts of Imphal on Thursday and the accused was arrested from Senapati district the next day.

The incident triggered protests in the city, where the accused and the victim live, and in Kanglatongbi, from where the girl hails.

Protesters had blocked the Imphal-Dimapur highway at Kanglatongbi, 25km from here, since Friday evening. The firing and Poudel’s death triggered further protests.

“We held a public meeting at Kanglatongbi mandir today and decided to lift the blockade in view of the assurances given by chief minister Ibobi Singh last night. Vehicular traffic resumed after 2 this afternoon,” Khadja Tamang, president of the joint action committee, said over phone.

According to Tamang, the chief minister informed our delegation during a meeting at his office last night about the police officer’s suspension.

The chief minister also pledged a departmental inquiry into the firing by a police officer not below the rank of inspector-general of police.

Ibobi Singh assured the committee that a government job would be given to a family member of Poudel, who died in the firing, and adequate financial compensation given to the two injured protesters.

“The chief minister also assured us that the police would submit the chargesheet against the rape accused as soon as possible. Today’s meeting discussed the government steps and finally decided to lift the blockade,” Tamang said.

The committee, however, cautioned the government that it would resume the blockade if all the assurances were not translated into action within two months.

Official sources said buses and supply trucks stranded at various points in Senapati district since Friday evening, reached Imphal later in the afternoon today.

Deputy chief minister Gaikhangam, who is also in-charge of the home department, termed the police firing on protesters “unfortunate”.

“Instead of opening fire, the police should have used tear gas shells, rubber bullets or water canons. A departmental inquiry will be held into the firing and action taken against the guilty,” Gaikhangam said.


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