The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Library blaze heat on cops
- Two officers told to step aside

Imphal, April 15: Heads started rolling in the Manipur police department two days after arsonists set fire to the state's oldest and largest library, triggering a blame game over lack of security arrangements at the institution.

Additional director-general of police Y. Joykumar Singh, who was in charge of law and order and armed police, and additional director-general of police C. Peter, in charge of human rights, homeguards and operations, were asked to hand over charge to their immediate subordinate officers.

The changes coincided with the start of two parallel inquiries into the fire that gutted the library. The art and culture department instituted an inquiry to ascertain whether any lapse by the library staff led to the incident. Art and culture commissioner P. Bhorot Singh was entrusted with the probe.

The decision was taken during a meeting convened by art and culture minister Pheirioijam Parijat Singh in his office chamber this morning. Chief librarian Heikrujam Devendra Singh repeated his claim that he had requested Imphal West superintendent of police S. Ibocha Singh in writing to deploy guards at the library. The request was ostensibly made 20 days before the act of arson by activists of the Meitei Erol Eyek Loinasillon Apunba Lup, which wants the Bengali script to be replaced by the Meitei one in school textbooks.

The police, however, denied having received any such request from the library.

An official source said there could be a major reshuffle in the police department after chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh returns from New Delhi.

Two script activists arrested within hours of the incident were today remanded in police custody till April 21. Sources said the government wanted them booked under the National Security Act. The police are on the lookout for seven more script activists.

The banned Revolutionary People's Front said it supported the campaign for the adoption of Meitei Mayek ' the local name for the indigenous script ' but criticised the script activists for taking the 'unwise' decision to set a 'storehouse of wealth' ablaze.

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