Fire engulfed UCM office at Lamphel of Imphal on Friday night

Series of violence, including bomb blasts and burning and ransacking of offices of civil society organisations, rocked Imphal on February 23 night, and also claiming the life of a student.

One of the blasts that killed a student and injured another, occurred inside the premises of the All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) located inside the DM University campus in the heart of Imphal on February 23 night, around 10 pm.

The deceased has been identified as Oinam Kenegy (24) of Upokpi village in Bishnupur district who was staying at the boys’ hostel inside DM University. He studied at DM College of Science.

He succumbed to splinter injuries at a private hospital in Imphal where he was rushed along with the other injured student identified as Salam Michael (24) of Keibul Lamjao of the same district. He is also a student of the same college.

The police rushed to the spot soon after the blast and took stock of the situation. They suspected perpetrators using a remote control device to trigger the blast.

Around the same time, miscreants also hurled and exploded a hand grenade at the house of an individual in Imphal West district.

No sooner had the blast at the premises of the students’ body took place, miscreants set on fire the office of the United Committee Manipur (UCM) where the office of the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) also housed.

The miscreants also torched the offices of Macha Leima (a women based organisation) in Imphal’s Palace Compound and a school runs by the organisation, Manipur Peace and Integrity (MAPI) Council at Wangkhei and Nongpok Leingak Apunba Nupi Lup at Wangkhei Keithel Ashangbi.

The offices of Coalitions Against Drugs and Alcohol (CADA) at Pureiromba Khongnangkhong, United People’s Front (UPF) and National Identity Protection Committee (NIPCO) were also vandalized.

People who witnessed some of the incidents alleged that the miscreants armed with sophisticated weapons came on four-wheelers while committing the arsons and vandalism.

Meanwhile, many including student bodies, UCM and COCOMI strongly condemned the blasts, arson and vandalism.

While condemning the blast at the AMSU office, students of various schools and colleges today carried out a protest rally on the streets in Imphal.

While chanting various slogans against the attack on the student body’s office, the students demanded booking of the culprit(s) involved in the blast.

Locals of Upokpi where the deceased hailed from also formed a joint action committee (JAC) in connection with the killing of the student.

The JAC set a 48-hour deadline to the government to arrest the culprit(s) while declaring that the dead body of the student will not be accepted until the demands put forward by the JAC to the government are not addressed.

The UCM, while condemning the setting afire of its office, termed the arson as an attempt to erase the history of Manipur while claiming that many documents related to the movement for protection of the integrity of Manipur were reduced to ashes in the arson.

These documents could not be acquired now even if we pay crores and crores of rupees, UCM president Joychandra Konthoujam said in a press conference held at Manipur Press Club on February 24.

He questioned the inaction on the part of the police and intelligence while asserting that the office was located only around 200 meters away from the Lamphel police station of Imphal West district.

Besides the police station, the regional officers of the SSIB battalion and NIA were also situated nearby, he added.

He questioned the intelligence of the law enforcing agencies of the state.

Joychandra further said that the arson led to the destruction of all these properties that belong to the people of Manipur. He said that all the parties should understand that they all have come out to defend the territorial integrity of Manipur and Manipuri people.

The COCOMI expressed strong concern over last night’s series of violence, specifically the bombing at DM University campus and the burning of the UCM office.

Addressing a press conference at the AIMS office in Imphal’s Kwakeithel, COCOMI coordinator Th Somorendro said that the violence incidents happened at a time when the people of Manipur are facing a war-like situation.

He said that this is not the time to indulge in such activities while asserting that this is the time for unity among the people and groups.

He said: “Even if different organizations have different strategies, the goal remains the same. To protect Manipur is the goal and it is only through unity that we can protect Manipur.”

He said that COCOMI’s office housed at UCM office had also been burnt down, resulting in the loss of numerous documents that were reduced to ashes.

Among others the documents that were reduced to ashes included records on history and boundaries of Manipur besides detailed records of all individuals killed and injured in the ongoing violence.

He said that COCOMI always welcomed any approach to discuss any matters but would not agree violence at any cost.

Somorendro criticized the state government while asserting that the series of violence incidents of last night occurred despite a high concentration of security forces in Imphal.

The state government should be held responsible for the violence, he added.

Macha Leima also condemned the arson at its office while asserting that the organisation has no enmity with any individual or group.

Its president Wangkheimayum Amusana informed that the office of Macha Leima and administrative building of Macha Leima School and Macha Leima micro-finance were set ablaze by the unknown miscreants.

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