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Over 30 injured in clashes during Imphal strike

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Imphal, Jan 18 (IANS) Over 30 people, most of them women, sustained minor injuries in clashes during a general strike called in the Manipur capital by a civil society group protesting the objectionable behaviour by women vendors against a BJP legislator after he stopped reconstruction of market complexes destroyed in the earthquake.

In clashes between women from BJP legislator Khumukcham Joykishan’s Thangmeiband constituency and women vendors during the 12-hour general strike, one woman fainted after being injured and was rushed to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal. Hospital sources told IANS that she was out of danger.

The strike was called by a number of organisations under the aegis of the Thangmeiband Kendra Development Organisation (THAKDO) to protest the storming of the legislator’s house by some women vendors on Saturday.

Armed police and paramilitary personnel were deployed, and no untoward incident was reported till noon on Monday.

Shops, banks, schools and other establishments were closed and there was no traffic in the Thangal market area.

Police set up barricades at all major entrances, but small groups of women who were supporting the strike managed to sneak into the market area. The women vendors opposing the strike retaliated.

A clash ensued, and many people sustained minor injuries. Policewomen, deployed at the site, had a hard time in separating the brawling women.

Some youths also sneaked into the market to stop the ongoing construction work.

Sources said the youths pelted stones and women vendors retaliated. Police, however, managed to chase away both the groups.

Security measures have been beefed up, as police fear more confrontation since the government is going ahead with the construction of the temporary market and the BJP legislator’s supporters are out to block the same.

The 12-hour strike was called from 5 a.m. on Monday in Thangmeiband constituency in which the market falls, in protest against the objectionable language some women vendors used against the BJP legislator and the damage they caused to his house.

The civil society organisations have demanded an apology from the women vendors for their objectionable language and damage caused to the BJP leader’s house.

The legislator said no tender was floated for the construction and no work order was issued.

Eight people were killed and over 100 others wounded in the January 4 quake that also razed to the ground hundreds of houses.

The nearly 2,000 displaced women vendors are now selling their items by the roadside, much to the resentment of the street vendors.

Sensing violent confrontation between the two groups, the government hurried with the temporary construction of the damaged markets.

The women’s market in Imphal is one of the largest such markets in the country.

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