At least six people were killed and eight others injured in violence that broke out in Churachandpur town in Manipur on Monday evening over three bills passed in the state assembly yesterday. An indefinite curfew has also been imposed in the area, reports NDTV
Houses of state health minister Phungzathang Tonsing and five other lawmakers were set on fire.
The mob prevented the police and fire engines from reaching the area. In the police firing that followed, two people died and one was burnt to death. The bills which triggered the violence were regarding land laws in Manipur. Protesters termed the Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, The Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh amendment) Bill, 2015, and The Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015, as anti-tribals. The amendments seek to regulate the entry of outsiders in the state through a permit system and carry out land reforms in the state.
Various groups which opposed the bill targeted the lawmakers’ houses as none of them objected to the bills and allowed them to be passed. The groups have also called for a 12-hour shutdown.
The lawmakers are reportedly safe. The groups oppose that an amendment bill ‘Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reform Act (7th Amendment Bill 2015)’ will allow non-tribals to access their lands and their job opportunities, unlike in states like Nagaland, where the entry of outsiders is strictly regulated.
Another cause of concern amongst the groups was that one of the clauses in the bills passed 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 angry mob protested that most people living in the hill areas don’t have exact records of when they settled in these parts, and hence any cut-off is impractical.