New Delhi: Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in India´s restive northeast over a controversial tribal rights laws, leaving at least seven people dead, a senior official said Tuesday.
Violence erupted in Manipur state´s Churachandpur district late Monday hours after the local parliament passed three controversial bills relating to the residence rights of indigenous groups.
Angry mobs poured out on to the streets and torched the houses of at least six local lawmakers.
“Two more people have died in the police firing, taking the death toll to 7,” Manipur home secretary J. Suresh Babu told AFP.
Babu said the “situation remained in control in most parts of the district” after an indefinite curfew was announced in Churachandpur, some 60 kilometres (40 miles) southwest of state capital Imphal.
Two people were burnt to death in one of the arson attacks, while four others died when police shot at the crowd. One protester also died in a stampede, Babu said, adding that up to 27 others were injured.
Tensions have been rising in recent weeks ahead of the vote on the three bills aimed at giving more rights to indigenous groups who accuse “outsiders” of taking land and jobs.
They have concerns over a clause setting 1951 as the base year for classing residents as indigenous, with those settling in the state before then given land rights, activist Babloo Loitongbam said.
Those who fled rebel fighting in neighbouring Mizoram state in the 1960s for Manipur along with ethnic Chins who fled Myanmar in the same decade fear they will classed as “outsiders”, he said.
Manipur, which borders Mynamar, has long been mired in separatist violence, with rebels claiming to be fighting for the rights of neglected tribals and ethnic groups.