Manipur descends into chaos and lawlessness
Manipur state in India's northeast is becoming a lawless region with militants threatening doctors and teachers, killing government officials and Hindi-speakers and extorting money from even temples.
"Militants are forcibly taking a percentage from donations and offerings given various temples," said Chief Minister Ikram Ibobi Singh, admitting to the reign of terror unleashed by separatists in the state.
The helplessness of the chief minister was evident in his speech at Langol on the outskirts of the state capital Imphal while inaugurating the burns wing of a hospital this week.
"Temple committees had earlier charged Rs.30 per head for religious feasts, but today the rates have been hiked to Rs.50 with militant groups collecting Rs.5 to Rs.10 per head as commission," Idobi Singh said.
Capital punishment meted out by militant groups in Manipur has now become almost routine - from drug peddlers to alleged corrupt officials, the rebels spare none.
On Monday, an engineer working for the Manipur Public Works Department, Keisam Nabachandra, was shot dead by militants in front of his wife and twin daughters on their birthday. His wife and two children were returning home with him from a temple he was shot from close range. The family was numbed into silence.
Earlier, two women were killed - both shot dead from close range by unidentified gunmen.
Last month, 15 Hindi-speaking migrant workers were killed in a string of attacks. The police blamed the killings on the outlawed Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL).
In most of these incidents, militants have killed after the victims either refused to pay extortion money or simply ignored their warnings.
Even doctors are under threat. The state's premier facility, the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), is contemplating shutting doors following threats by the outlawed Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) to the institute's director and medical superintendent.
The rebel group has accused the two officials of accepting bribes during recruitments.
For the past several days, hospital employees have been staging demonstrations asking the militant group to withdraw the threat.
"If the terror tactics continue, we will be left with no alternative, other than closing the hospital," RIMS Director L. Fimate said.
Meanwhile, with a near anarchy like situation gripping Manipur, Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar held a security review meeting on Tuesday - the third one in four months.
Residents admit that the state of 2.4 million people is fast turning into a lawless region with militants dictating terms. The civil administration virtually does not exist in many places.
There are some 20 militant groups active in Manipur, bordering Myanmar, their demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy.