Churachandpur: Indefinite curfew has been declared in the whole of Manipur after three more people died in the protests over the three new state laws flared up again this morning. Altogether, six persons have died in the protests and eight people have been injured.
In Churachandpur — the epicentre of the protests — a mob tried to burn down the police station. As the police fired back, two more persons died.
Roads were blocked and the Indian Reserve Battalion and the state police were called in to control the protesters.
Last evening, three persons died and five were injured in the protests that went on for hours. Vehicles were torched and the homes of five legislators and health minister Phungzathang Tonsing who were from the area, was burnt.
Two people died in police firing and one person – an associate of a lawmaker died in the fire when his house was torched by protesters.
The protesters said they felt let down by the lawmakers, who did not oppose the bills in the assembly.
“The Constitution’s Article 371 protects the rights of tribals in Manipur. But the state’s new land reform law has made tribals venerable to encroachment and interference by non-tribals, who are now free to buy land in this area,” a youth leader spearheading the protests told NDTV.
“We are fighting for our rights… These MLAs have failed to protect our own indigenous rights.”
Manipur has been witnessing violent agitations over the last three years for the implementation of the Inner Line Permit System.
The latest protests are over a new law that, protesters say, makes tribal areas that are currently off limits to non-tribals, accesible to all and will lead to tribals — the Nagas and the Kukis — losing their land.
One of the clauses in the law is setting 1951 as the base year to identify non-indigenous people, who are regarded as outsiders by a section.
The law decrees that those who settled before 1951 can have property rights. The rest will have to give up property and may even be asked to leave.
Protesters say most people living in the hill areas, particularly the Kuki tribe, share ethnic bonds with neighbouring Myanmar and don’t have exact records of when they settled in these parts, and hence a cut-off date is impractical.