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Groups set deadline for cops

Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh offers namaz on Id on Saturday. Picture by UB Photos

Imphal, July 18: A public action committee has given the Manipur government three days to initiate action against the police personnel responsible for the death of a student who was protesting for implementation of inner-line permit in the state.

Sapam Robinhood, a Class XI student, died on June 8 after being hit on the face by a tear gas shell fired from close range during a police crackdown on inner-line permit (ILP) supporters in Imphal East.

Robinhood was among the thousands of students taking part in demonstrations in support of an ILP campaign, spearheaded by the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System, a citizen's conglomerate.

"It has been 10 days since the student was killed. The government has not done anything to punish the police personnel responsible for his death. We demand suspension of the police personnel within three days. If the government remains silent, we will intensify our agitation after the deadline," a spokesperson for the committee said.

After the student's death, the state government imposed an indefinite curfew and indefinitely shut all schools and colleges in the Greater Imphal area. The educational institutions are yet to reopen. The curfew was relaxed from 5am to 7pm today.

Reacting to the demand for punishment of police personnel responsible for Robinhood's death, deputy chief minister Gaikhangam, who is also the home minister, said a senior police officer had started investigations into the circumstances leading to the death.

"We have received a complaint from the family of the deceased student. A senior police officer has started investigations to find out the circumstances leading to his death. The inquiry will also find out if there were excesses by the police in dealing with the protesters. We will take action accordingly," he said.

On the closure of educational institutions, he said those would be reopened as soon as the situation returned to normal.

The Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur had yesterday filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in Manipur High Court against the indefinite closure of the educational institutions. The court is yet to hear the petition. The day, however, remained peaceful in view of Id and Kang Chingba (Rathyatra) festivals. The ILP committee also appealed against any strike till tomorrow in view of the festivals.

Muslims offered namaz in masjids while Hindus attended the Kang Chingba festival at Imphal Palace and celebrated it in various localities.

Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who is rushing against time to prepare a bill on the lines demanded by the ILP committee and to pass it within three months, attended Id prayers at Babupara Masjid here and later the Kang Chingba festival at Imphal Palace.

The ILP committee is pressing for a bill which can safeguard the indigenous people, within a fortnight.

"All should pray for peace and communal harmony in Manipur on this day," Ibobi Singh said after offering namaz.

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