IMPHAL, December 22: The indefinite general strike which was called throughout the state with effect from midnight of December 21 paralyzed normal life in the state and caused a sting to the spirit of Christmas .
The general strike which was imposed by the Film Forum Manipur, Manipur State Shumang Leela Council and other civil society organisations is mainly felt by the Christians of the State which comprise of the tribal populace and inclusive of converted Meitei Christians . The strike further supported by different organisations, meira paibis etc. caused untold hindrances to the public and mainly to those from the hill districts bore the brunt as the late announced strike stranded many individuals from the hills which had come for Christmas shopping in Imphal city as inter district transport came to an immediate standstill.
It was evident from reports gathered that the strike has hampered the general interest of the public in relation to the mentioned yuletide festival.
Decrying the incident of physical assault to a film artist namely Momoco and dire threats made to two other artists which occurred on the evening of 18 December at Maha Mani Higher Secondary School ground, Chandel by a NSCN-IM cadre identified as one Livingstone, various segments of Imphal City and adjoining areas inclusive of Thangmeiband, Uripok, Singjamei, Khurai, Langol,Ghari and other areas saw violent protest as protestors took to the streets and the police has a herculean task of trying to control the sporadic incidents which involved arson in the streets at the mentioned places. It may be stated that the State Police became a silent observer as mobs indiscriminately burnt tyres at the streets and blocked passageways in the inter village roads.
The situation would be best described as one nearest to what took place during the public uprising which occurred as a backlash of the murder of SDO, Thingnam Kishan and two other employees namely Token and Rajen at the hands of the NSCN (IM).
The main agitators comprised of womenfolk and the protest began in the morning today with closing down of the market at the temporary market shed located opposite the Family Welfare Department. The womenfolk also stopped motorist along the Ima Market area, the same women also thronged the gates of the MPCC to complain the ineffectiveness of the Home Department. The mob tried to converge towards the Chief Minister’s bungalow but was thwarted by City Police personnel.
Sudden calls of general strike crippled the state especially 4 valley districts of the state which are Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishnupur. Interstate and inter district bus services came to a standstill and Imphal bound buses and trucks were left stranded along both highways. Government offices and establishments, schools, colleges remaining closed. The business establishments, markets, private enterprises were totally affected by the strike. Entertainment sectors like cinema halls, local entertainment channels and Ningtham Kumei organised by Manipur State Shumang Leela Council which recently stated at Iboyaima Shumand leela Shanglen were stopped.
Many road blocks, burning of effigies, burnt tyres, sit in protests, pelted stones, rallies were witnessed in parts of the 4 valley districts of the State. To control the strike, state police force fired tear gas shells and live bullets. Nine persons including agitators were said to have been injured in supportive police action and in trying to control mob violence. All the injured has been evacuated to RIMS. Amongst the injured, 4 persons are from Thangmeiband and two are from Ghari Area.
As the protest escalated in the greater Imphal area, Imphal West District Magistrate has imposed curfew from 7pm tonight till 6 am tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Police fired several rounds of bullets in the air along with tear gas shells to disperse a mob of around 500 people carrying an effigy of the alleged NSCN (IM) cadre identified as Livingstone Anal, charged of assaulting and molesting a Manipuri film actress, at Checkon crossing in Imphal East today afternoon at around 4:30 pm.
The mob consisting of men and women were coming from Khurai Bazaar and reached Checkon Crossing after passing Hatta. They were intercepted by the police at Checkon Crossing near the traffic island.
After they burnt the effigy near the traffic island, the angry mob stared throwing stones towards the policemen who were present there at the time. In retaliation, the police fired several rounds of bullets in the air along with tear gas shells to disperse the mob.