Imphal, April 28
The situation remained tense in southern Manipur’s Churachandpur as “miscreants” set ablaze the venue where Chief Minister N. Biren Singh is scheduled to address a meeting on Friday.
A police official said late on Thursday night that the Chief Minister is scheduled to visit the hill district on Friday and arson took place in the venue with chairs and other materials set on fire.
Senior police officials with reinforcement have rushed to the place to control the situation.
Meanwhile, 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.
On March 10, tribals organised protest rallies against the state government on this count in three districts that were also allegedly backed by Kuki militants.
A peaceful protest turned violent in three districts — Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal in which five people were injured in these 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”.
After the March 10 incidents, the Manipur government unilaterally pulled out from the tripartite talks and suspension of operation (SoO) signed with three Kuki militant outfits — the Kuki National Army (KNA), Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) and Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) — even though the Union Home Ministry is yet to give its approval to the state government’s decision.
It was also reported that the cadres of KNA, ZRA and KRA are instigating poppy cultivators in the state against the government, which has been taking action against illegal poppy cultivators, and destroying poppy fields in the forest land, especially in the reserve and protected forests.
However, an umbrella organisation of the Kuki outfits has dismissed the accusations.
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 SoO with the three militant outfits on August 22, 2008.