Photo Credit: Morung Express
PTI Report: In the wake of heightened tension and violence, parts of Manipur capital Imphal were today brought under indefinite curfew and mobile internet services were snapped at various places to prevent spread of rumours over an alleged attack on a church. The curfew was imposed this noon and covers Porompat and Sawombung subdivisions of Imphal East district, said an order issued by the District Magistrate. It will continue till further directions.
Earlier in the day, the state Cabinet decided to shut down mobile internet services in Imphal West district with immediate effect, taking serious note on the prevailing situation here following three blasts on Friday. The Imphal West District Magistrate issued an order directing telecom operators to shut down mobile data service in the district immediately until further orders.
The action came in the wake of tensions following Friday's blasts and an alleged attack on a church. Major areas of the state capital fall in Imphal West district where the three blasts had taken place within an hour on Friday evening.
Life had been completely thrown out of gear during the 24-hour Manipur wide bandh on Saturday called by women vendors of four Ima markets of Khwairamband Keithel in protest against the fatal ambush by suspected militants killing three cops and injuring several others two days ago,reports Morung Express published from Imphal.
This newspaper further reported that during the bandh from 7 pm of December 16 to 7 pm of December 17, normal life was affected in most parts of the state and stray incidents were also reported.
All districts in the valley were shut off totally. Vehicles were off the road. All important roads including highways witnessed almost total bandh. Local clubs and other organisations also enforced the strike in every street.
Protestors piled up burning tyres, tree branches and other objects in the middle of roads everywhere to block traffic. In Jiribam district, some four passenger vehicles were damaged by strike supporters for defying the bandh.
The Manipur Baptist Convention (MBC) Church located at Chingmeirong in Imphal was also attacked by a mob at around 2 pm on Sunday. Numbering over a hundred, the mob attempted to barge into the MBC Church compound before resorting to pelting stones breaking glass shields of the church.
The mob also attempted to break open the gate before police intervened leading to a brief confrontation between the police and the mob in front of the church, the sources informed.
According to sources, the bandh supporters pasted a big poster at the gate of the church warning people not to go to the church without the consent of the Chingmeirong locals.
Today’s protestors accused the NSCN-IM of the coordinated attacks on state police. Quickly reacting against the violence, the Manipur government has written to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) pointing fingers at the Naga outfit over the attacks.
Before announcement of the general strike, Khwairamband Keithel women vendors’ organisations took out a protest rally in the streets of Imphal yesterday to condemn the NSCN (IM) and the UNC.
Heavily armed unidentified persons ambushed two different police teams on Road Opening Party (ROP) duty at two spots on Imphal-Moreh highway on December 15, killing three personnel and injuring about a dozen. On the same day, three other cops were injured when militants attacked them at Noney near the Imphal-Jiribam highway.
The bandh was also in protest against the protracted indefinite economic blockade imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC), according to the vendors’ bodies of the historic Ima Keithels (mothers’ markets) located in the heart of Imphal.
Spearheaded by the UNC, the Nagas are resisting the Manipur Government’s move to create new districts by carving out Naga areas. Meanwhile, militants attacked three residents with explosives at Fairyland and Nagaram in Imphal on Thursday night. The three blasts occurred between 7:30 pm to 8 pm. There was no casualty however.
Meanwhile, the PTI further reported that the Cabinet decision to curtail the internet came after analysis of the prevailing law and order situation and to halt spreading of rumours through social networking sites, officials said.
The move was preceded by a 24-hour bandh called to protest hill based militants' attacks on Manipur Police in the last few days in different parts of the state that left three policemen dead and 14 others injured. The militants also snatched several weapons from the IRB personnel.
All measures were being taken to contain violence by deploying a large number of police personnel at sensitive areas of the state, a police officer said.
The capital today saw violence by protesters who were agitating against the ongoing economic blockade in the state and a series of terrorist attacks. A number of vehicles were set on fire or vandalised.
The landlocked state has been experiencing severe hardship in supply of essential items since November 1 after United Naga Council (UNC) imposed an indefinite economic blockade on the two national highways that serve as lifeline for the state.
The blockade was imposed following the state government's announcement of formation of seven new districts, four of which have been formally inaugurated.
Tension in the state heightened after suspected militants continued their violent attacks on Manipur Police and other state forces in the last few days that left three policemen dead and 14 others injured last Thursday.
The attack was followed by triple bomb blasts at Nagaram area in Imphal West district allegedly by Manipur Naga People's Front on Friday.
In another incident, suspected militants overpowered a small outpost of Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) at Nungkao area yesterday in Tamenglong district and fled with nine service weapons.
Owning responsibility for the attacks, Manipur Naga Peoples Front (MNPF) in a press release said that the three residents hail from Somdal village of Ukhrul, the native village of NSCN (IM) General Secretary Th Muivah.