TODAY -
Khuga dam stand off turns ugly, 3 killed in SF firing
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, December 15: Even as members of the Khuga Dam Action Committee met the Chief Minister yesterday to talk things over the compensation to be paid to the owners of the affected land, things took an ugly turn at the dam site in Churachandpur district last night at about 10 when three persons were killed while 28 were injured in firing by security personnel.

Tension started running high when around 500 villagers gathered near the dam at about 4 pm and made it clear that construction work of the dam should be stopped unless the State Govt agrees to pay the compensation demanded.

As the villagers started raising slogans and became more assertive, personnel of the 41st BSF manning the dam, relayed an information to the State police.

Soon a police team led by the SDPO of Churachandpur police and IRB personnel reached the site and tried to pacify the villagers which had threatened to turn into a mob.

The police informed them that an MoU had been signed between the Action Committee and the Government, but this failed to cut any ice with the villagers.

Police source said that the villagers refused to buy the story that an MoU had ben signed and threatened to over run the dam.

At about 10 pm, the villagers started stoning the police and IRB, said police sources and added that to control the situation, tear gas shells were fired.

Guns were also fired.

BSF officials informed a team of media persons who had gone to the site today that from their side they did open a single fire.

If the police and IRB personnel had not controlled the mob, then the dam could have been substantially damaged, they added.

The Assistant Commandant of the BSF said that if timely action was not taken up then the casualty could have been much higher.

Trouble erupted chiefly because the members of the DAC could not get in touch with the agitators as the phone lines were out of order, said police sources.

The three persons who were killed in the firing have been identified as Lenjamang Mate (30) of Mata Moldon (passed away at RIMS), Punsuam Hao (36) of Zoumun village and Kailian (48) of Mata Mutum.

Of the 28 villagers injured in the incident, most were taken to Churachandpur district hospital and later discharged.

However 14 who suffered injuries on the lower portion of the body are still at the hospital.

Thirteen have been operated to extract bullets.

A Gypsy belonging to the Churachandpur police were also burnt beyond redemption by the mob.

With this, Churachandpur police now do not have any vehicles.

Speaking to the media, DAC secretary T Jamkholun said that the security personnel exceeded their briefs and opened fire at a group of villagers which consisted of women and children.

The guilty personnel should be identified and responsibilities fixed, he demanded.

Local MLA and IFCD Minister Phungzathang Tonsing, Singhat AC MLA Thangso Baite and IG (LO-II) A Romenkumar rushed to the site of the incident today morning.

A meeting was also held at Churachandpur with the DAC members wherein the DC of the district AK Sinha and SP S Ibocha were also present.

As news of the incident spread, a bandh was imposed at Churachandpur.

All passenger buses on the Imphal-Ccpur route were made to stop at Torbung.

However, following an agreement at the meeting, the bandh was relaxed at 2 pm today.

The main points of the agreement include payment of ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh each to family members of the deceased within December, payment of Rs 10,000 each to the injured within three months time, to take up appropriate action against the guilty personnel.

IFC Minister Phungzathang Tonsing, HAC Chairman Songchinkhup and Singhat MLA Thangso Baite signed the agreement on behalf of the Govt while from the side of the DAC, its president AK Naulale and secretary T Jamkholun appended their signatures to the agreement.

Meanwhile, the People's Development Council, Chu-rachandpur has strongly condemned the killing of the three persons and injury caused to many others in police firing.

In a statement, the Council demanded immediate ex-gratia payment to the kins of the killed and adequate compensation to the injured.

If the demands are not met then the Council will not remain quiet, it warned.

The statement further said that it has sent condolence messages to the bereaved family members and injured persons and urged all community leaders, student leaders and philanthropic organisation to come together and fight unitedly for the rights of the tribal people.


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