Uneasy calm in Manipur after violence over renaming of place

Imphal, Jan 21 (IANS) An uneasy calm prevailed in Manipur on Thursday in the wake of prohibitory orders which were clamped following clashes between two groups over the state government’s plan to rename a religious place, police said.

Violence broke out in some villages bordering Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts on Wednesday afternoon when some tribal women attacked members of another community over the state government’s approval of a proposal to rename the Thangjing mountain — a 1,801-metre peak near Churachandpur — as Thangting mountain.

A temple said to be in existence for the last almost 2,100 years is located at its top.

According to official sources, the proposal was approved in mid-December. Its approval — at the behest of members of the Kuki community of Churachandpur district — has led to unrest in the area.

After the district administration imposed prohibitory orders on Wednesday evening, heavily armed police and paramilitary personnel in full riot gear have been patrolling the area.

The Joint Action Committee — a group of five to six religious and cultural groups — has been protesting the state government’s decision and enforced an indefinite blockade since January 17 on Tiddim Road which passes through Imphal west, Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts.

However, the blockade was on Thursday relaxed for 30 days.

Wangkhemcha Shyamjai, president of the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union, said: “This government action has created a misunderstanding among some groups who have been living for generations in complete communal harmony.”

Several cultural and religious groups have opposed the government action.

A meeting was held on Wednesday night between Chief Minister Okram Ibobi and representatives of the activists but no agreement could be reached, members of the Joint Action Committee, who were part of the meeting, later said.

Three MLAs, including ruling Congress legislator M. Prithviraj, were also present at the meeting.

Some women who held a meeting at Torbung on Wednesday at the border of the two districts were pelted with stones rocks by another group of women, according to media reports. Some witnesses said shots were also fired in the air.

In another incident, three buses carrying members of the Young Mizo Association for an annual conference were stopped, damaged and one driver was manhandled, reports said.

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