Protests turned violent in Manipur as police burst tear gas shells to disperse agitated locals during the first day of the indefinite state-wide bandh called by a film body demanding the arrest of an NSCN-IM ultra who allegedly molested a Manipuri film actress at a public function.
Sources said supporters of the strike, called by the Manipur Film Forum (MFF), pelted stones at plying vehicles defying the bandh and damaged a police van in Imphal.
Burning of tyres and blocking of roads were reported from many places in East and West Imphal districts, sources said, adding that bandh supporters were also not allowing people to come out from their homes.
Life in Manipur was crippled as all shops, markets, business and entertainment houses remained closed while transport services were cancelled.
The decision to call the bandh was taken on Friday evening because the chief minister and state leaders had not taken concrete steps to arrest self-styled Lt Col of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) Livingstone Anal who molested film actress Momoka in public view while she was compering a song competition at Chandel district on December 18, a MFF spokesman said.
Livingstone also opened fire at two artists who tried to rescue Momoka but the bullets missed, according to a MFF memorandum submitted to the state government.
Various major social organisations including United Committee Manipur, All Manipur United Clubs Organisations and several other women organisations have extended their support to the indefinite bandh.
Attendance in both central and state government offices was affected as buses remained off the road, official sources said, adding, precautionary measures were taken by deploying forces at various strategic locations to prevent any untoward incident.
Police said they are taking steps to prevent any communal clashes and forces have been deployed at various places including the tribal-settled areas in valley.
Official sources said some people were injured when police lathicharged demonstrators, including artists, who came to meet the chief minister to submit a memorandum on the issue on Friday evening.
Manipur Home Minister Gaikhangam said the government has already instructed police to arrest the NSCN-IM ultra, Livingstone, and book him as per provisions of the law.
Livingstone, a relative of the sitting MLA from Chandel assembly constituency, is reportedly hiding in nearby jungle, official reports said.
Gaikhangam urged Manipur Film Forum to call off the bandh in view of the Christmas season saying all efforts would be made to arrest the NSCN-IM militant.
Official sources said the Centre and NSCN-IM had signed ceasefire agreement more than ten years ago and peace talks were going on between the two sides.
But ceasefire is not in force in Manipur although several NSCN-IM members freely roam at various parts of Manipur with arms and they could be arrested anytime, they said.