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Curfew reimposed in Manipur

G Vinayak in Guwahati | August 04, 2004 15:59 IST

Indefinite curfew was reimposed in Greater Imphal area at 1300 IST on Wednesday following violent clashes between protestors demanding abolition of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the police, even as Chief Minister Ibobi Singh and newly-appointed Governor of Manipur S S Sidhu were about to arrive in the state capital.

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Reports reaching Guwahati said the authorities reimposed day curfew as a precautionary measure after receiving reports that students and women were planning to block the road that the governor and chief minister would have taken from the airport.

Protestors, who had gathered at the Keishampat junction on the main road, turned violent after hearing the curfew announcement, forcing the police to resort to lathi charge and tear gas shelling. Several protestors were injured.

Singh and Sidhu were returning to the capital after day-long confabulations with the Central leaders in the national capital.

Singh, who has been under pressure to lift the controversial law after the killing of  Manorama Devi, an alleged militant of the banned People's Liberation Army at the hands of Assam Rifles troops on July 11, was told by the Central leaders that there is no question of abolishing the Act, that serves as a shield for armed forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations.

Instead, the chief minister was told to correct the situation by working on an alternate plan, which includes setting up a seven-member committee which would visit the state to assess the situation and take a fresh look on whether the Act was really needed.

Part of the Manipur package could also be setting up a monitoring panel that would address public grievances on the alleged misuse of the Act.

The state has been in turmoil since July 11 with dharnas, agitations, jail-bharo, relay hunger strikes and a stunning 'naked' protest by a dozen odd elderly women punctuating the agitation.

Despite the fact that more than 20 companies of Central paramilitary forces have already been deployed in the state in the past 10 days in addition to the 13 battalions of Assam Rifles, four of the army and eight of the CRPF already in place in the state, there is no improvement in the law and order situation.

One more army brigade -- the 44th -- is also in the process of moving to Chandel on Manipur's border with Myanmar.

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