IMPHAL: The situation in the trouble-torn Churachandpur district in Manipur remained tense on Saturday, with miscreants setting afire a government building.
The district administration imposed a night curfew from Saturday in the mountainous district, where the agitators also set ablaze an open gym, chairs and damaged other materials on Thursday night.
Police said that since Friday night, some incidents of violence have also been reported in the tribal-dominated Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal districts.
Director General of Manipur Police P. Doungel and senior officials on Saturday visited Churachandpur district and reviewed the situation.
Police said that some agitators set afire the office building of the Forest Range Officer in the Tuibong area around Friday midnight, and several fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the flames.
Churachandpur district administration on Saturday imposed the night curfew for an indefinite period from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m.
A police officer in Imphal said that the situation is still grim though heavy security measures have been taken to prevent fresh incidents of violence.
Veteran Congress leader and three-time former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and state Congress president K. Meghachandra Singh criticised the BJP government and Chief Minister for the “wrong policy in dealing with the tribals and forest lands”.
After Thursday’s incidents of violence, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh cancelled his Friday’s visit to Churachandpur district.
Biren Singh was scheduled to address a public gathering at Sadbhavna Mandap in New Lamka Town in Churachandpur on Friday and inaugurate an open gym at PT Sports complex.
Saying that his government is committed to protecting people from the drug menace, the Chief Minister on Saturday reiterated that poppy cultivation in the state would be completely wiped out.
The BJP government in the state would not allow poppy cultivation and has been taking continued actions against those involved in such plantations, he told the media.
Vandalisation occurred and clashes erupted between demonstrators and police at Sadbhavna Mandap on Thursday night, leading security forces to lob tear gas shells to disperse a large crowd of local tribals, who also pelted stones at security forces deployed to keep the peace in the bandh-hit town.
The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) has called for an eight-hour shutdown in Churachandpur district on Friday from 8 a.m. to protest the state government’s eviction drive from the protected and reserve forests.
The ITLF in a statement said that they had submitted several memoranda to the state government expressing their grievances and apprehensions about the survey carried out by the government pertaining to reserve forests and protected forest, wetlands and wildlife, and the eviction of villagers.
In support of their demands, tribals organised protest rallies on March 10, against the state government in three districts — Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal, in which five people were injured in those incidents.
The protests were organised against the state government’s crackdown on poppy cultivation and encroachment of forest land.
The state government earlier this month demolished three churches in Manipur, claiming that the churches were “illegal constructions”.
The hilly and forested Churachandpur district in southern Manipur, which borders Myanmar and Mizoram, is home to various Kuki-Chin militant groups.
The Centre and the Manipur government signed the tripartite agreement and Suspension of Operation with the three militant outfits on August 22, 2008.