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Manipur: Mob sets ablaze new gym ahead of inauguration by CM opposing forest survey, demolition of illegal churches, section 144 imposed and internet snapped

Following the violence, internet access has been momentarily suspended, and Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is implemented in New Lamka in the Churachandpur district of Manipur

A mob on Thursday night vandalised and torched the event venue in Churachandpur district in Manipur, which was to be attended by Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Friday. The incident happened in New Lamka in the Churachandpur district, where he was scheduled to inaugurate a gym-cum-sports facility today. He was also scheduled to address a meeting at the venue.

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), which has been protesting the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government’s survey of reserved and protected forests and wetlands, reportedly led the violence. The tribal forum has also alleged that the state administration has destroyed churches.

The Manipur govt is conducting a land survey at Khoupum Reserve Forest, which is being opposed by several organisations. The organisations objected to the survey alleging that it is being done without the consent of the village chief and the concerned village authorities. However, the govt has decided to go ahead with the survey after holding a ‘fruitful’ meeting with village chiefs in the area.

It is notable that earlier this month, three unauthorised churches were demolished by the state government in Imphal East district. According to the govt, these three churches were built at government-owned land at Tribal Colony in Imphal. The three churches, Catholic Holy Spirit Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church and Evangelical Baptist Convention Church, were demolished amid heavy security after Manipur high court termed them illegal as they were constructed without govt approval.

Following the violence, internet access has been momentarily suspended, and Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is implemented in the area.

The decision was taken following a report by the police citing the ‘likelihood of breach of peace, disturbance to public tranquillity and grave danger to human lives and properties in the district,’ Additional Deputy Commissioner, Churachandpur district, S Thienlatjoy Gangte, stated in the order issued on Thursday.

“Some unruly mobs and anti-social elements have damaged the newly constructed open gym at PT Sports Complex, New Lamka which is scheduled for inauguration by Chief Minister, Manipur on 28/04/2023 and also vandalized the venue for public meeting at Sadhbhav Mandap,” the official statement read.

“In addition, it is also learnt that a total shutdown in Churachandpur district has been called by Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Form (ITLF) from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm of 28/04/2023 and that there is likelihood of mobilisation of the public for protest through social media and networking sites which could lead to escalation of public unrest and unlawful activities in Churachandpur district,” it further informed.

“It is, therefore, requested to kindly consider curbing/suspension of internet/mobile data in Churachandpur district with immediate effect and until the situation improves,” the notice added.

The newly installed open gymnasium at the PT Sports establishment in New Lamka was partially set on fire by the infuriated throng. The enraged crowd was observed destroying furniture within the facility, including seats, and setting fire to sports equipment inside the property.

The gathering was promptly dispersed by local police, but the structure had already suffered damage from hundreds of flaming chairs. The local authorities increased security in the region as the situation became out of control, but the tension has not abated.

The administration, however, has not yet confirmed whether the programme has been cancelled or not.

Meanwhile, ITLF has called for an eight-hour shutdown in the Churachandpur district on Friday from 8 a.m. to protest the state government’s eviction drive from the protected and reserve forests.

The forum called for an eight-hour walkout in the district beginning at 8 am and remarked that it had been forced to carry out a non-cooperation campaign against the government in order to impede its projects. “The government has shown no sign of willingness or sincerity in addressing the plight of the people,” they alleged.

They have also received support from the Kuki Students’ Organisation, which has accused the state of exhibiting a stepmotherly attitude towards the indigenous people of the state.

Three churches in the state were apparently destroyed earlier this month after the Manipur government proclaimed that they were built unlawfully.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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