Student dies in ILP protest

Indefinite curfew in Imphal, govt asks schools and colleges to close from today

By Khelen Thokchom and Ngangbam Indrakanta Singh
  • Published 9.07.15
School students clash with police personnel during the protest rally in Imphal on Wednesday. (PTI)

Imphal, July 8: A student died and several people were injured as supporters of the inner-line permit (ILP) system clashed with police today, turning the city into a war zone.

As a pre-emptive move to prevent escalation of violence, the district magistrates of Imphal East and Imphal West imposed indefinite curfew in the greater Imphal area from 4pm today.

The state government has also ordered closure of all schools and colleges in the greater Imphal area from tomorrow.

In two separate orders, the education department said the institutions were being closed in view of the "deteriorating" law and order situation as students act as "fronts" of ILP protesters.

The city remained tense following the death of Sapam Robinhood, a Class XI student of Ananda Singh Higher Secondary Academy, Imphal East.

Robinhood, who was hit on his left jaw by a tear gas shell, died while being taken to a private clinic, Raj Medicity hospital.

The clash took place in the Sanjenthong area of the city when the police fired tear gas shells to stop the students from marching to the Assembly, which is in session. Several students were injured.

Students of several schools in and around the city left classes to participate in demonstrations in support of implementation of the inner-line permit system in the state, a campaign spearheaded by the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System.

They raised slogans in front of their school gates and later tried to storm the Assembly complex. In the process, they pulled down a traffic island shed in Imphal East and when police teams arrived to bring the situation under control, they hurled stones at the police, who retaliated by hurling stones and firing rubber bullets and tear gas shells.

A large number of students were injured in the police crackdown and were admitted to nearby hospitals. The police picked up several protesters from various parts of Imphal and detained them. The joint committee claimed that about 10,000 students took part in today's demonstrations.

The joint committee's women's wing also tried to storm the private residence of Speaker L. Lokeshore at Keishapat in Imphal. It had planned to demonstrate when the Speaker came out of his house on his way to attend the Assembly session. However, the protesters had to return as the Speaker was apparently already out of his house when they arrived.

"We are pressing for a bill that would protect the indigenous people from the increasing influx in the state. We want to tell the Speaker about our demands," said M. Memchoubi, a leader of the women's wing.

The committee was established on July 4, 2012 to demand immediate implementation of the inner-line permit system in Manipur to protect the "future" of the indigenous population of Manipur. It said in the 2001 census, Manipur had a population of 22,93,896, of which outsiders accounted for over 7 lakh.

The committee has been protesting over the past week against the Manipur Regulation of Tenants and Visitors Bill, 2015, saying that it aims at regulating entry of visitors, tenants and migrant workers and is not meant to protect the indigenous people of the state but to support outsiders entering the state. It wants the bill, which was introduced in the Assembly on March 16, to be replaced by a new legislation.

The committee, which held sit-ins and protest marches over the past week and called a day's strike yesterday, intensified its agitation today because its demand has not been discussed by the ongoing session of the Assembly, which will conclude on Friday.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) member L. Ibomcha Singh today demanded a discussion on ILP in the morning session of the Assembly. The demand came up during zero hour. Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who is also the leader of the House, decided not to respond to the demand.