A video journalist was shot dead while several others were injured in Imphal on Sunday during violent protests against the alleged assault and molestation of a noted Manipuri actress by a Naga militant. The police opened fire when the protesters were trying to torch a police vehicle at Thangmeiband in Imphal west district. Journalist K Dwijamani was shooting the action when a couple of stray bullets hit him, one in the chest. He was rushed to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences where he succumbed to injuries.
The protestors, led by the Film Forum Manipur and the All Manipur Shumang Leela Artists’ Association, enforced a bandh in Imphal valley since Saturday demanding action against one Livingstone, belonging to the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), who had allegedly molested the actress while she was hosting a musical programme in the state’s Chandel district.
The bandh has crippled normal life in Imphal with shops, markets, business and entertainment houses remaining closed and transport services cancelled. Several incidents of arson and clashes between bandh supporters and the police were reported across Imphal on Sunday. At least four vehicles, one belonging to the police, were torched by the bandh supporters. Also, over a dozen people including policemen were injured in the clashes. The police picked up a number of people in connection with the violence.
The authorities imposed curfew in entire Imphal valley to prevent further escalation of the violence. The protestors said they would not relent until the culprit was booked and punished.
Manipur’s deputy chief minister Gaikhangam appealed to the protestors to restraint saying the police were probing the incident of alleged molestation.
“The Assam Rifles conducted a search at an NSCN-IM camp but the culprit was not found,” he said. Reacting to the alleged molestation, the NSCN-IM said: “It is a matter of regret and concern that a small incident that took place during a musical concert in Chandel has been blown out of proportion”.
The outfit alleged that the trouble on that day started when the actress made a “provocative gesture” against the Nagas which infuriated the Nagas present there. It said Livingstone had slapped the actress in a fit of rage.