Scribe killed in police firing

Imphal: A journalist was on Sunday killed in police firing in Imphal West district after protests against alleged molestation of a Manipuri actress by a Naga militant turned violent.

Thangjam Nanao Singh, a 29-year-old reporter of ‘Prime Time’ channel, received bullet wounds in his chest when police opened fire at Thangmeiband to disperse bandh supporters who torched the vehicle of Lamphel police station incharge on the second day of an indefinite strike called by a film body demanding arrest of the militant.

Singh succumbed to injuries at the Regional Institute of Medical Science and Hospital, official sources said.

The violent agitation against the sexual assault on Manipuri actress Momoko, who has appeared in public demanding justice, coincided with the angry protests that have rocked national capital Delhi after a paramedical student was brutally gangraped and tortured last Sunday.

Manipur Film Forum MFF had called for the indefinite strike to press for arrest of NSCN(IM) militant Livingstone Anal for allegedly publicly molested the actress during a musical concert in Chandel district on December 18.

As the news of Singh’s death spread, violence spread to other parts of Manipur Valley including the capital complex, prompting police to reimpose curfew, which was withdrawn in the morning, for 16 hours from 2 PM in Imphal East and Imphal West districts. Announcements on reimposition of curfew were made by the administration over the public address system cautioning people from venturing outside. State Home Minister Gaikhangam visited the hospital and condoled the death of Nanao Singh.

He also appealed to the strikers, particularly MFF to remain calm and and said all out efforts were on to trace and arrest the Naga militant who had allegedly molested the Manipur actress. Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, he said, is meeting Union Home Minister SushilkKumar Shinde in Delhi to discuss the militant’s arrest as NSCN-IM is engaged in peace talks with the Centre. Late tonight, the MFF said it was suspending its indefinite strike till December 26 midnight in view of the ensuing Christmas celebrations following request from public.

President of All Manipur Working Journalists Union Mobi Singh has, meanwhile, demanded that the police return the camera used by Nanao Singh in which the reporter had taken several pictures of the spot. According to officials, four vehicles, including that of the officer-in-charge of Lamphel police station, were set ablaze by strike supporters in East and West Imphal districts. The other vehicles were torched at Andro parking area, Langol and Khurai, all near here. Besides, the office of the sub-divisional officer at Laiphamkhunou in Imphal west district was also set ablaze by the agitators.

Official sources said police burst tear gas shells to disperse bandh supporters at Thangmeiband, Khurai, Sagolband, Andro Parking – all in capital complex but no casualty was reported.

Some people were injured when the agitators pelted stones at the general public in Imnphal East and West Districts, the sources said. The police personnel also chased away agitators, who were blocking roads from various places and asked people to remain indoors during the curfew.

Hundreds of people from hills who had come to the capital town were stranded and would be transported back with official escort to enable them participate in Christmas festivities, the sources added. (PTI)