Mob torches houses of five Manipur legislators and a minister

Six houses, those belonging to a minister in the Manipur government and five other MLAs, were set on fire on Monday evening by agitators

Imphal: Five houses belonging to Congress lawmakers and one minister were on Monday burned down by an angry mob in Manipur's Churchandpur district over the Inner Line Permit issue, officials said.

The houses belonged to Phungzaphang Tonsimg, Minister-in charge of Health and Family Welfare Minister, and five MLAs, including Manga Vaiphei of Henglep constituency and Vungzagin Valte of Thanlom, a police officer said.

The mob also set afire the vehicle of Churachandpur Deputy Commissioner Lunminthang Haokip, and prevented fire engines from dousing the flames, even as police were forced to resort to a baton charge.

However, none of the lawmakers were at their residences. They were all in Imphal, the state capital, attending the special legislative assembly session.

One of the arsonists was hospitalised after sustaining injuries while trying to set fire to a house, the officer added.

Three tribal students' organisations, which had called a 12-hour bandh today in the hill districts to protest against the passing of some Bills in the Manipur Assembly, are suspected to be behind the arson, the officer said.

Officials said the mob was comprised of members of tribal students organisations protesting against the Manipur government's adoption of three landmark bills -- Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill 2015, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (seventh amendment) Bill 2015, and Manipur Shops and Establishment (second amendment) Bill 2015.

The three bills were unanimously passed in the assembly after the ruling Congress signed an agreement with the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) on August 25 to enact three laws to protect the interest of the indigenous people.

However, tribal civil society groups opposed the introduction of the bills, saying they overlapped with some points in the Manipur Hill People Administration Regulation Act, 1947, meant to safeguard the interest of tribesmen in the hill areas of Manipur.

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