Manipur killing sparks protests

A strike to protest against an alleged extra-judicial killing by police has paralysed life in India’s north-eastern state of Manipur.

The strike was called by the Apunba Lup, a group of militant Manipuri student and youth organisations.

The group is leading a campaign against a law which gives sweeping powers to troops on counter-insurgency duty.

Apunba Lup says Chungkham Sanjit was a militant who had surrendered, and was killed without provocation last month.

Mr Sanjit was killed near the state assembly in Manipur’s capital, Imphal.

Officials have denied allegations of extra-judicial killing.

They say Mr Sanjit was killed in an “encounter” with police, who fired at him only when they were fired upon themselves.

‘Running amok’

Media coverage of the incident has provoked angry demonstrations and violence in parts of Imphal for the past two days.

It included television footage showing Mr Sanjit being dragged into a shopping mall and then his lifeless body being dragged back into a police vehicle.

“Such fake encounters are multiplying. Human rights violations are mounting across Manipur,” said Pholindro Konsam, co-ordinator of the Apunba Lup.

Protesters are now demanding the resignation of Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

“The chief minister is responsible because he has given the police a free hand and they are running amok. So he should resign, owning moral responsibility for the killing,” Mr Konsam said.

He has also demanded punishment for the police commandos allegedly involved in the “unprovoked killing in broad daylight”.

A recent report by the US-based group Human Rights Watch called upon the Indian government to act to end what it described as “a cycle of unpunished violence, including killings, by security forces and armed groups” in Manipur.

Human Rights Watch also called for the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers’ Act (Afspa) to be repealed.

A government-appointed review committee also recommended the repeal of this act in 2004.

Manipur, with a population of some 2.3 million, has seen military operations against a host of militant separatist groups since 1980.

The government maintains that Afspa is necessary to restore normalcy.

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