The situation in violence-hit Churachandpur in Manipur remained grim with unidentified miscreants setting fire to a government building, even as night curfew was imposed in the district from Saturday, officials said.
A group of people torched the office building of the Range Forest Officer in Tuibong area around midnight and several fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the flames, they said.
Also read: Manipur: Prohibitory orders clamped, mobile internet services suspended after mob violence
Public property destroyed
Public property worth lakhs was reportedly destroyed and official documents burnt in the blaze, a police officer said.
Night curfew has been imposed in the district from 5 pm to 5 am from Saturday until further orders, according to an official notification.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC and suspension of mobile internet services will also continue in the district, the officials said.
The situation is still grim. Security has been bolstered at all major junctions and large localities of the town to prevent any untoward incident, the police officer said.
Fresh clashes had erupted between demonstrators and police personnel in Churachandpur town on Friday night, with security forces using batons, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the mob.
Locals claimed that some people were killed and many injured in the police action, hours after a bandh called by Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) concluded at 4 pm. However, there was no official confirmation on casualties or injuries to people.
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 on Friday, clashes broke out between protestors 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, police said.
Singh, however, deferred the visit following protests and the call for bandh.
Congress targets BJP
Meanwhile, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday blamed the BJP for the violence in Manipur and accused the ruling party of “bulldozing” the rights of indigenous communities.
Also read: Amid signs of widening rift within Manipur BJP, party to hold meeting on Friday
“The situation in BJP-ruled Manipur is disturbing. Violence is no solution to any issue. Law and order has been completely derailed in the state under the double-engine government,” Kharge said on Twitter. “The BJP is hellbent to trample and bulldoze the rights of vulnerable indigenous communities. We strongly condemn it,” the Congress chief also said.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, “The real face of the BJP now visible in Manipur”.
While entire Team Modi is fixated on Karnataka, Churachandpur in Manipur has turned into almost a war zone only a year after the BJP got a decisive majority in the state. The double engine there is blowing up! Neither the Union govt or the national media is bothered about it. pic.twitter.com/RFktOOe4es
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) April 28, 2023
“While the entire Team Modi is fixated on Karnataka, Churachandpur in Manipur has turned into almost a war zone only a year after the BJP got a decisive majority in the state. The double engine there is blowing up,” Ramesh said on Twitter, alleging that the Union government is not bothered about it.
(With Agency inputs)