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IMPHAL, April 11 (IFP): Atleast 33 people were injured and seven houses including shops were burned down as a fallout of a confrontation between two groups today during the Mayai Lambi general strike at Mayang Imphal Konchak, Imphal West district.
As the situation remained charged, the district magistrate has imposed curfew in the whole of Wangoi sub-division since 1pm today, prohibiting movement of anyone from their residence, until further notice.
On the other hand, prohibitory order under section 144 of CrPC has also been clamped by the district authority.
According to information culled from the spot, the tension erupted early morning around 8.
In response to the little publicised general strike called by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) against the death of two youths, who succumbed to their injuries after being thrashed by a mob for allegedly lifting vehicles at Sagaisabi on April 7 under Mayang Imphal Police station, a group of strike supporters came out and restricted movement of vehicles along the Mayai Lambi.
The protest turned ugly when the protestors denied passage to commuters who were on their way to attend religious rituals.
Aggrieved by the plight of the commuters, a group of people settled in the area reportedly intervened with the intention to reason out with the protestors to exempt commuters related with religious matters, from the purview of the strike. However, things turned sour and a confrontation broke out between the two groups.
The protestors numbering around 200 and allegedly armed with lethal weapons including licensed guns (shotguns), went on a rampage and set ablaze six houses including a two storey building and shops belonging to the group who were not in favour of their protest.
It is learnt that in the mayhem money, valuables worth several lakhs of rupees were also stolen from the shops before they were being burnt down.
In retaliation, the other group also burned down a hardware store (attached to a house).
On receiving information of the development, a team of the concerned police station rushed to the spot only to be outnumbered by the protestors who also reportedly fired several rounds.
Initial reports said atleast 10 individuals of the group not in favour of the bandh were injured in the confrontation. A police commando was also injured in the confrontation.
Most of injured were hit by pellets fired from shotguns and have been evacuated to Shija hospital after first aid was administered at the local PHC.
Additional police forces including commando units from four valley districts along with fire tenders, later penetrated the area (Mayang Imphal Konchak, Bengun etc) dominated by the protestors amidst stiff resistance from the protestors who used catapults, stones and shotguns.
To neutralise the mob police fired tears gas shells, mock bombs and even live rounds in the air.
Gunshots were heard for several minutes even when this reporter arrived at the scene.
In the meantime, it has been claimed that altogether 22 protestors were hospitalised at the Noor Hospital Lilong.
Even as the situation was brought under control, panic stricken residents of the areas have started evacuating the place.
“What have I done that my house has been burnt down so mercilessly”, said a woman of Konchak Mayai Leikai with tears.
The Imphal West Deputy Commissioner also arrived at the scene to take stock of the situation.
A company of 86 battalion CRPF, have also been deployed in addition to the state forces present late in the evening.