Churachandpur, April 29: On Friday night, fresh clashes broke out between protesters and police personnel in Churachandpur town in Manipur, leading to the snapping of the internet for five more days. The security forces had to resort to batons, tear gas, and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd that tried to violate Section 144 enforced in the district.
The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum reportedly led the mob violence that vandalized and set on fire the site of an event that Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh was scheduled to attend.
The forum has been objecting to the BJP-led state government’s survey of reserved and protected forests and wetlands. Demonstrators came out on the roads in large numbers and set ablaze some vehicles, following which security forces used tear gas shells and blank fire to disperse the crowd.
8-Hour Bandh Hits Normal Life
Churachandpur district witnessed a complete shutdown following an 8-hour call by the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ILTF) demanding the eviction of villagers from protected forests. The streets wore a deserted look, and normal life was hit in the tribal-dominated southern district.
The chief minister questioned the “indigenousness” of the 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?”
Tension in Churachandpur
Churachandpur town continues to remain tense even after an agreement was reached between the Inspector General and the students’ body leader. According to sources, people are enraged over the non-withdrawal of Police Commando forces from the district headquarters, despite the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum agreeing to withdraw the protest.
Agitated mobs gathered in the Tuibong Bazar area, resorted to burning tires on the roads, and rang electric poles to make their voices heard across every locality. A scuffle broke out between the police and local mobs on the Sielmat Bridge.
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Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh hit out at the BJP and said, “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 government nor the national media is bothered about it.”
Protesters were seen blocking roads and burning tires 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. Stone-throwing by protesters, and the 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.
Local MLA Invited Me to Celebration, Says CM
A local MLA of 58-Churachandpur Assembly Constituency, LM Khaute, is allegedly attempting to escape the ire of local residents after inviting Chief Minister of Manipur N. Biren Singh to the district. According to sources, local people perceive Khaute as anti-tribal, and he has been escorted by police to Imphal for his safety.
LM Khaute had invited the Chief Minister to celebrate his first anniversary of being elected to the Manipur Legislative Assembly. However, the invitation has sparked widespread protests, and Khaute is now facing backlash from the local community. Singh said his plans to visit Churachandpur district have been deferred after the local legislator who had invited him decided to postpone the function.