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7 die in protest against land bill

Manipur district under curfew

By Khelen Thokchom in Imphal
  • Published 2.09.15


Protesters block a road in Churachandpur on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos

Imphal, Sept. 1: Seven persons have been killed in Churachandpur district since last night while protesting against amendment to the Manipur land law, prompting the administration to impose curfew till 5am tomorrow.

While three protesters died in police firing today, four died during last night's arson and violence and more than 30 were wounded, 15 of them seriously.

Today, protesters defied the curfew and attacked the police, forcing the latter to fire in the air. An irate mob set Churachandpur police station on fire this afternoon. The police fired in retaliation, resulting in the death of three protesters and injuries to two.

The agitators also set a vehicle and a motor workshop on fire. They blocked roads all over the town with boulders and huge trees to block security reinforcements, thus putting the town under siege.

Trouble erupted last evening after a 12-hour bandh, called by three student organisations, ended at 6pm. The Kuki Students' Organisation, All Naga Students' Association Manipur and the All Tribal Students' Union, Manipur, had jointly observed the bandh in all the five hill districts of the state against the amendment to the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act.

Last night, the protesters torched the private houses of Lok Sabha MP Thangso Baite, health minister Phungzathang Tonsing, Assembly Hill Areas Committee chairman Chaltolien Amo and Congress legislators T.N. Haokip, Manga Vaiphei and Vungjagin Valte, located in and around Churachandpur town.

Churachandpur deputy commissioner Lunminthang Haokip said last night, two persons died of bullet injuries, one was charred to death as the houses were set on fire and the fourth died in a road accident caused by road blocks. He, however, could not say who fired the shots.

"We could not control the mob last night. My vehicle was burnt. We sought help from paramilitary and other central forces. Additional state forces were also deployed to control the situation," he said.

The Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015, proposes a cabinet approval for purchase of land by a non-Manipuri person.

The organisations said the bill overlaps with Article 371C of the Constitution and the Manipur Hill People Administration Regulation Act, 1947.

"The amendment of the bill disturbs the rights of the tribal people. People are angry because our representatives did not speak for us when it was passed in the Assembly," Minlan Gangte, information secretary of the Kuki Students Organisation, Churachandpur, told reporters today.

He said the land law has not been extended to the hills till now and if it is extended to the hills it will disturb the tribal people's rights.

Gangte urged the state government to reconsider the bill, governor Syed Ahmed not to give his consent to the bill and the Centre to intervene into the situation.

The Centre today termed the situation in Manipur "very tense". It said it would rush additional paramilitary forces, following a request of the state government to assist the police in tackling the situation.

"The situation in Manipur is very tense. Curfew has been imposed all around the troubled areas. If necessary, we will take more steps," minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju told reporters in Delhi, adds PTI.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh called up chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who briefed him about the situation in the state.

The home minister assured Ibobi Singh of all central assistance to tackle the situation arising out of the violence.

"We are monitoring the situation. We had discussions with the chief minister and the state government officials," Rijiju said.