GUWAHATI: Violence broke out in restive Manipur again on Sunday with protestors torching as many as 22 vehicles, carrying mostly the Nagas (tribesmen), even as the authorities imposed an indefinite curfew in Imphal East district and suspended mobile Internet services in Imphal West district.
The violence was the result of an indefinite “economic blockade” enforced on two national highways — lifelines of Manipur — since November 1 by Manipur’s apex social organisation of the Nagas United Naga Council (UNC) in protest against the Okram Ibobi Singh government’s decision in October to upgrade Sadar Hills and Jiribam to full-fledged districts. Subsequently, the government had taken a decision earlier this month to create five more districts. Unofficial sources claimed three buses and at least 19 small vehicles were torched by the angry protestors in Imphal East district.
Escorted by policemen, hundreds of people were travelling in a convoy of vehicles to Ukhrul, which is one of the four Naga-majority districts of Manipur, from state capital Imphal. The vehicles were targeted at Lamlong, around 5km away, in the Imphal valley. After the violent attack, while some people managed to flee, around 300 others were taken to a nearby community hall by the authorities. Later, they were shifted to the 1st Manipur Rifles battalion headquarters for their safety.
The state Cabinet on Saturday night decided to suspend Internet services in Imphal West district with immediate effect. Subsequently, the District Magistrate issued an order directing telecom operators to suspend the services until further orders.
The decision was made as “rumours” were being circulated through social networking sites in the wake of a series of violent incidents, including the triple blasts on Friday evening and the attack on Manipur’s biggest church in Imphal on Saturday.
Most areas of Imphal fall under Imphal West district. Sources said the situation was very tense but under control.