Shutdown hits normal life in Manipur's Churachandpur

More than 180 people have been killed and several hundred injured since ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on May 3. Photo: AFP

Imphal: A complete shutdown in the tribal-dominated Churachandpur district of Manipur on Monday brought normal life to a standstill.

Kuki organisations had called for the bandh to protest against the arrest of seven people, including two minors, from the area by the NIA and CBI.

Suspects in the case of the kidnapping and killing of two Manipuri youths in July this year were among the arrested people.

Circulation of photos of the two youngsters on social media in recent times had led to an upsurge of demonstrations in Imphal Valley, leading to the case being handed over to CBI.

Public vehicles were off the road, while markets and business establishments remained shut during the shutdown in Churacandpur district, police said.

The ITLF, a conglomerate of recognised tribals of Manipur, had called for an indefinite shutdown in the district from 10 am on Monday to protest against the arrests and demanded that they be released within 48 hours.

Churachandpur-based Joint Students Body (JSB) also called a 12-hour shutdown in the district from 6 am on Monday.

The killing of the two youths - Phijam Hemanjit, a 20-year-old man, and Hijam Linthoingambi, a girl of 17 years of age - had gone missing on July 6. Photos of their bodies surfaced on September 25 leading to violent protests mainly by students.

Chief Minister N Biren Singh had on Sunday said that four people were arrested by CBI in connection with the kidnapping and killing of two Manipuri youths, and the government would ensure the maximum punishment for them.

Singh had also said that the NIA on Saturday arrested one person from Churachandpur in connection with a case of a transnational conspiracy by Myanmar and Bangladesh-based leadership of terror outfits to wage war against India by exploiting the current ethnic strife in Manipur.

The arrested person was the second accused apprehended in the case, registered suo motu on July 19. On September 22, the NIA arrested another person from Manipur in connection with it.

More than 180 people lost their lives and several hundreds were injured since the ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur on May 3, after a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals -- Nagas and Kukis -- constitute little over 40 per cent and reside in the hill districts.

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