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Curfew in Manipur town after arson, clashes

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Imphal: Indefinite curfew was clamped on Monday in a town in Manipur following clashes between residents and followers of a self-styled godman, in which many people were injured and vehicles were damaged.

Imphal East District Magistrate M. Joy ordered the curfew at Wangkhei Hijam Leikai after the clash near a temple of the self-styled godman Hijam Ratan alias Panthou on Monday morning.

At least six people were injured in the clash, in which 30 vehicles, including cars and auto-rickshaws, were damaged. As many as 13 vehicles were burnt.

Official reports said the situation was under control but tense. Police in riot gear were patrolling trouble-prone areas.

This was the second clash between residents and the godman’s henchmen.

In the earlier instance, the godman allegedly tried to grab a plot of land near the temple on which an office of local women vigilantes is located. After the first clash, residents laid siege to the temple.

Though people urged early resolution of the sensitive issue, the government has not intervened. Residents also alleged that 43 dance students were held as human shields at the temple against their wishes.

However, the godman’s supporters denied this allegation, saying the children were staying there of their own will. On Monday, the children’s parents came there to take them back home.

When local television channels were asked to speak to the children, the godman’s supporters objected, following which a clash broke out.

Some under-construction buildings were also targeted by arsonists, but fire tenders managed to douse the blaze.

Police burst tear gas canisters and fired shots in the air to disperse the crowd. Curfew was imposed later.

In another incident, a few people were injured when two houses were gutted in a clash between villagers at Lamdeng. Property worth lakhs of rupees was destroyed. Police later said the situation was brought under control.
IANS

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