Rioters rampage against residence law in northeast India

Published September 1, 2015
In this photograph taken on August 31, 2015, Indian people watch a blaze at the residence of Manipur state health minister, Phungzaphang Tonsimg which was torched during a protest against controversial tribal rights laws, at Churachandpur, some 60 kilometres (40 miles) southwest of state capital Imphal.   — AFP
In this photograph taken on August 31, 2015, Indian people watch a blaze at the residence of Manipur state health minister, Phungzaphang Tonsimg which was torched during a protest against controversial tribal rights laws, at Churachandpur, some 60 kilometres (40 miles) southwest of state capital Imphal. — AFP

GAUHATI: Rioters went on a rampage in the northeast Indian state of Manipur overnight, setting fire to the homes of seven lawmakers to protest new legislation defining who can claim to be from the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, police said Tuesday.

One person died while trapped in a burning house on Monday night, and two died when police fired to disperse the arsonists.

Police imposed a curfew and deployed paramilitary forces after the violence erupted in Churachandpur town 70 kilometers southwest of the state capital of Imphal.

Lawmaker N. Biren Singh said the law demanding people provide some proof that their families lived in Manipur before 1951 is aimed at keeping “outsiders” including migrants from settling in the state, on the border with Myanmar.

But Singh said authorities had no plans to begin checking documents soon.

“Those who are protesting may be harboring fears the authorities might now start looking at relevant documents to see if anyone has settled down in the state after 1951,” Singh said.

The protesters said, however, that setting such a limit excludes many who arrived legitimately after that date or who don't have proper documents.

India's remote northeastern region comprises a patchwork of ethnic and tribal communities who are distributed unevenly across seven states and spilling over into neighboring Myanmar.

Tensions have erupted in recent years as many on the Indian side worrying about refugees from Myanmar taking jobs and land.

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