Militants pull down hospital in Manipur

"I don't think Manipur is a safe place for civilians. You have the trigger happy security forces killing innocent people at will and then you have the ruthless militants doing whatever they feel like," said Aruna Devi, a local schoolteacher.

In the latest incident Tuesday midnight, about 200 militants in eight trucks descended upon village Nongpok Sekmai in Manipur's Thoubal district and used a hijacked excavator to pull down a government hospital. An immunisation programme was scheduled at the hospital on Wednesday although it was cancelled.“

"This act of militants demolishing a hospital needs to be condemned in the harshest possible terms," said M. Oken Singh, a local legislator representing the ruling Congress party. Although bizarre, the reason for razing the structure down was that the hospital was a symbol of the government.

There are instances of militants in Manipur extorting money from temple priests as well.“
"Militants are forcibly taking a percentage from donations and offerings given to various temples," said Chief Minister Ikram Ibobi Singh, admitting to the reign of terror unleashed by separatists in the state.

Capital punishment meted out by militant groups in Manipur has now become almost routine -- from drug peddlers to alleged corrupt officials, the rebels spare none.
Residents admit that the state of 2.4 million people is fast turning into a lawless region with militants dictating terms and the security forces killing innocent civilians in fake encounters. The civil administration virtually does not exist in many places.

Six people were killed late Tuesday near village Awang Khunou in Imphal West district - two riding a motorcycle and four others in a vehicle. A police spokesperson said the encounter took place after the two motorcycle borne youths and the four people on a Tata Sumo vehicle refused to stop when asked to halt by a security patrol on the highway.

Four of the six killed have since been identified by their families who now claim they were innocent civilians and that it was a fake encounter - two of them earned a living selling mobile phone recharge vouchers, another was a rickshaw puller and the fourth person a driver by profession.

Meanwhile, there were protests and sit-in-demonstrations in the area with locals forming a joint action committee demanding a judicial enquiry into the incident. Manipur is in turmoil since July 23 following an alleged fake encounter death of 27-year-old Chongkham Sanjit and a pregnant woman in the heart of capital Imphal by security forces.

The immediate provocation for the string of protests was the publication of a set of photographs that punctured the security forces' claim that they had killed a youth following a gunfight.

The photographs clearly revealed that the youth, Chongkham Sanjit, was taken inside a pharmacy by security forces in capital Imphal unchallenged and then his dead body was brought out.“

"It is a Catch-22 type of situation here where civilians are gasping for survival with both state and non-state actors unleashing a reign of terror," said Dilip Singh, a rights activist.
There are some 20 militant groups active in Manipur, bordering Myanmar, their demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy.

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