The Imphal Free Press, IMPHAL, Mar 3:
An 18-hour state-wide general strike has been called from midnight tonight over the revelations of molestation and torture suffered by Maibam Naobi Chanu while in police custody, even as representatives of several civil society organisations clashed with police this afternoon at Keisampat while trying to march upon the state Assembly to register their protest.
meanwhile, in view of the outraged sentiments of the public over the allegations of harrassment, torture and molestation raised by Maibam Naobi Chanu against the police, the state government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.
An order to this effect was issued by the state chief secretary, Jarnail Singh, today in the name of the Governor of Manipur.
The district magistrate, Thoubal, P Vaiphei, has been charged with the task and has been asked to submit his report within a period of one month.
In the meantime, chief minister O Ibobi appealed to the groups which have called the general strike tomorrow to suspend the strike in view of the ongoing class X, XI and XII examinations.
The CM made the appeal following an emergency meeting of the council of ministers this evening. The CM has also reportedly assured that if the concerned police commandos were found guilty of excesses, they would not be spared.
Earlier, it was resolved at a meeting at Hotel Excellency, Imphal, which was attended by representatives of around a hundred civil society organisations, including student bodies AMSU, MSF and DESAM that the state-wide general strike will commence from midnight tonight and last till 6 pm tomorrow.
The meeting also unanimously resolved to seek the resignation of the chief minister O Ibobi Singh and his entire council of ministers over the incident, and further called for awarding the utmost punishment for the guilty police commandos.
In the wake of the meeting, the civil society representatives, numbering around a hundred, tried to proceed in a rally towards the state Assembly building, but were stopped by police at the Keisampat Junction.
The police, stationed behind barricades, opened fire with tear gas shells and smoke bombs in a bid to disperse the slogan-shouting protestors.
In the firing, a scooterist, identified as M Khogendra, 39, of Kwakeithel Makha Heinou Khongnembi Thokchom Leikai, was hit by a projectile and had the bridge of his nose broken. His forehead was also split, and had he had to undergro several stitches at JN hospital, where he was evacuated by mediapersons.
The protestors, who were shouting slogans demanding the resignation of chief minister Ibobi, and the disbanding of the `rogue` commando force, ran helter skelter after the police fired tear gas and smoke bombs. A water cannon was also deployed at the spot, but was not brought into play.
The sudden police action also disrupted normal traffic, along with several marriage processions.
Earlier, speaking to mediapersons at Hotel Excellency, AMUCO general secretary NC Khuman, said the revelations of Naobi Chanu have uncovered the true nature of the police commandos, and claimed that there were many like her who have been similarly victimised by the security forces, but did not come forward out of shame.
Demanding the resignation of chief minister Ibobi, Khuman said the continued existence of the present government was unacceptable. A series of stirs in this connection is to be taken up in the near future, he said.
Briefing the media on the resolutions adopted at today`s meeting, he said the commandos involved in outraging Naobi Chanu`s modesty should be punished, and their punishment should be made known to the people. The meeting had also sought action against the lady magistrate who had taken a one-sided decision in remanding Naobi to police custody.
Meanwhile, protestors set ablaze an effigy of O Ibobi Singh over the Naobi Chanu issue this evening around 4:30 pm at Nongmeibung Yubraj Palli, under Imphal east district.
In related incidents, unidentified motorcycle borne youths tried to set ablaze the DTC office located at the Palace Compound at around 9 pm. Though the office suffered only minor damage, some furniture and documents were set ablaze.
Unidentified persons also attempted to set ablaze the Model Hr Sec School at around 10 pm, another report said.
In the meantime, a medical examination was performed on Naobi Chanu at the deparment of forensic medicine, RIMS this afternoon to determine whether rape had been committed upon her while in custody.
The medical examination was carried out under the directive of the Manipur Human Rights Commission following an application filed by Naobi herself.
Naobi, speaking to the media following her unconditional release yesterday, had charged that while she was in the custody of the Thoubal police commandos, she had been disrobed, and her private parts repeatedly groped. She had also raised the possibility of her having been raped while she was in an unconscious state.