Fresh clashes broke out between demonstrators and police personnel in Manipur’s Churachandpur town on Friday night, with the security forces using batons, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the mob.
Rumours are flying that several people were killed and injured in police action in the town, hours after a bandh called by Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) concluded at 4 pm. However, no official confirmation was available.
The eight-hour shutdown, called to protest against the eviction of Kuki villagers from protected forests, paralysed normal life in the tribal-dominated southern Manipur district.
Earlier in the day, clashes erupted between demonstrators and police at Sadbhavna Mandap in New Lamka in Churachandpur district, the venue where Chief Minister N Biren Singh was scheduled to address a public meeting.
The chief minister, however, deferred the visit following protests and the call for the bandh.
Stone throwing by protestors, firing of tear gas shells and rubber bullets by security personnel were reported from areas such as New Lamka, Tuibong Bazaar, Sielmat bridge, Lanva bridge and T Champhai, police sources said.
Officials said that police were forced to lob tear gas shells to disperse a large crowd which had gathered in New Lamka and was throwing stones at security forces deployed in the bandh-hit town.
There were no injuries despite the stone-throwing. Deployment of forces will continue to oversee the situation, officials said.
The chief minister was scheduled to address a public meeting at Sadbhavna Mandap and inaugurate an open gym at PT Sports complex, both in New Lamka town.
However, on Thursday a protesting mob had attacked the venue and set fire to about 100 chairs and other equipment.
Singh said his plans to visit Churachandpur district have been deferred after the local legislator who had invited him decided to postpone the function.
“The local MLA had invited me to a celebration and to inaugurate the open gym,” the CM told reporters on the sidelines of an agriculture department function here.
Singh also questioned the “indigenousness” of the organisation Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) which called the 8-hour bandh and said “What indigenous people? We are indigenous people. Nagas are indigenous people. Kukis are indigenous people. What indigenous tribal?”
Meanwhile, prohibitory order under Section 144 of CrPC has been clamped and mobile internet services have been suspended in Churachandpur district.
An order issued by the Home department said, “To prevent any disturbance to the peace and order the suspension of mobile internet services shall be in force for the next five days with immediate effect in Churachandpur and Pherzawl districts.” During the bandh, New Lamka town wore a deserted look as all private and public vehicles kept off the road except for those of security personnel.
Markets were closed with all shops and establishments pulling down their shutters, police said.
Protesters were seen blocking roads and burning tyres in the morning. They had also piled up debris at the entrance gate of the New Lamka town but this was later cleared by police teams.
A huge police force has been deployed at all major junctions and large localities of the town to prevent any unwanted activities, an official said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)