IMPHAL, December 17 (NNN): Life was completely thrown out of gear during the 24-hour Manipur wide bandh on Saturday called by women vendors of four Ima markets of Khwairamband Keithel in protest against the fatal ambush by suspected militants killing three cops and injuring several others two days ago.
During the bandh from 7 pm of December 16 to 7 pm of December 17, normal life was affected in most parts of the state and stray incidents were also reported.
All districts in the valley were shut off totally. Vehicles were off the road. All important roads including highways witnessed almost total bandh. Local clubs and other organisations also enforced the strike in every street.
Protestors piled up burning tyres, tree branches and other objects in the middle of roads everywhere to block traffic. In Jiribam district, some four passenger vehicles were damaged by strike supporters for defying the bandh.
The Manipur Baptist Convention (MBC) Church located at Chingmeirong in Imphal was also attacked by a mob at around 2 pm today. Numbering over a hundred, the mob attempted to barge into the MBC Church compound before resorting to pelting stones breaking glass shields of the church.
The mob also attempted to break open the gate before police intervened leading to a brief confrontation between the police and the mob in front of the church, the sources informed.
According to sources, the bandh supporters pasted a big poster at the gate of the church warning people not to go to the church without the consent of the Chingmeirong locals.
Today’s protestors accused the NSCN-IM of the coordinated attacks on state police. Quickly reacting against the violence, the Manipur government has written to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) pointing fingers at the Naga outfit over the attacks.
Before announcement of the general strike, Khwairamband Keithel women vendors’ organisations took out a protest rally in the streets of Imphal yesterday to condemn the NSCN (IM) and the UNC.
Heavily armed unidentified persons ambushed two different police teams on Road Opening Party (ROP) duty at two spots on Imphal-Moreh highway on December 15, killing three personnel and injuring about a dozen. On the same day, three other cops were injured when militants attacked them at Noney near the Imphal-Jiribam highway.
The bandh was also in protest against the protracted indefinite economic blockade imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC), according to the vendors’ bodies of the historic Ima Keithels (mothers’ markets) located in the heart of Imphal.
Spearheaded by the UNC, the Nagas are resisting the Manipur Government’s move to create new districts by carving out Naga areas.
Meanwhile, militants attacked three residents with explosives at Fairyland and Nagaram in Imphal on Thursday night. The three blasts occurred between 7:30 pm to 8 pm. There was no casualty however.
Owning responsibility for the attacks, Manipur Naga Peoples Front (MNPF) in a press release said that the three residents hail from Somdal village of Ukhrul, the native village of NSCN (IM) General Secretary Th Muivah.