The houses of Manipur’s health minister Phungzathang Tonsing and five other lawmakers were set on fire as violence erupted in Churachandpur town this evening over the Inner Line Permit Issue yesterday on 31 August 2015.
The police used batons and tear gas to disperse agitating mob. Indefinite curfew has been imposed in the area. Groups opposed to the passing of three bills in the assembly — that seek to regulate the entry of outsiders into the state through a permit system – went on rampage around 6 pm. The lawmakers were targeted because none of them objected to the bill and allowed it to be passed, sources said. Their houses were set on fire and the mob prevented the police and fire engines from reaching the area. The minister and the lawmakers were reported to be safe.
The state has been witnessing violent agitation for many months now which has kept schools, colleges shut down. The pro-ILP agitation has also resulted few deaths so far.
Reports say the vehicle of Churachandpur Deputy Commissioner and his escort have also been torched. “At the moment, we are having a tough time bringing the situation under control,” said a senior officer.
One of the clauses in the bills passed today is to set 1951 as the base year to identify non-indigenous people, who are regarded as outsiders by a section. The new law decrees that those who settled in Manipur before 1951 can have property rights. The rest will have to give up property and may even be asked to leave.
The three main ethnic groups in Manipur — the tribals, the Nagas and the Kukis — have not backed the agitation, which has primarily been a demand of the Meiteis, who live predominantly in Imphal, the capital of Manipur. Manipur has been witnessing violent agitations over the last three years for the implementation of the Inner Line Permit System.
The agitation is based on a belief that an influx of outsiders into the state has taken away jobs, and land from the indigenous people, unlike in states like neighbouring Nagaland, where the entry of outsiders is strictly regulated.
State government meanwhile says that the the bills are meant to protect rights of all indigenous people in Manipur. Manipur is home to more than 30+ ethnic communities and can be called a Mini India in itself.
Sources: Inputs from various sources/websites, online sources.