Bomb blast, protests prevent Manipur CM from opening hospital

Imphal, Oct 24 (IANS) Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh was on Monday prevented from inaugurating a district hospital in Ukhrul town after protesting tribals did not let him and his entourage move from the helipad.

The Chief Minister waited for an hour after landing at 9.30 a.m. for crowds to assemble for the inauguration, and finding no one there, flew back to the state capital.

Security reasons also prompted Ibobi Singh not to stay beyond an hour at Ukhrul town, on the border with Myanmar, after a bomb blast early on Monday injured a police man and damaged part of the building where he was to speak. An incidence of sniper firing in the area later left another security man injured.

Protesting tribals in the district of Ukhrul did not let Ibobi and his entourage to proceed from the helipad to Hundung for the inauguration of a district hospital and some other projects, including a power sub-station.

With an eye to the January assembly polls, Ibobi has been inaugurating a string of projects in the state.

The Tangkhul Naga Long group in Ukhrul was not amused since the 100-bed district hospital at Hundung is just half completed. When Ibobi Singh did not heed to its appeal not to inaugurate the half-complete hospital since a “public curfew” was imposed, they decided to block the movement of the Chief Minister.

When Ibobi Singh and his party landed at Ukhrul by chopper, it resembled a ghost town with all facilities shut and not a single soul sighted on the roads. Several men and women staged sit-in protests along the roads leading to Hundung, making it impossible for the Chief Minister to pass through.

Ibobi Singh, who landed at 9.30 a.m., waited till 10.30 a.m., and then decided to return to his office by the same chopper.

Some months back, tribals in Churachandpur district had blocked the roads when Ibobi Singh and other Ministers came to inaugurate two power sub-stations.

Sources said in view of the protests by the people and ongoing construction of the hospital, it may not be inaugurated at all. The Election Commission is also likely to enforce a code of conduct shortly since Manipur goes to polls in January.

Earlier, a bomb blast took place at 12.30 a.m. on Monday, injuring one Indian Reserve Batallion trooper and partially damaging the hall where Ibobi Singh was scheduled to speak to the people.

One constable of 6 Manipur Rifles was also wounded when some snipers opened fire to prevent the Chief Minister’s entourage from proceeding to the venue.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bomb blast or the sniper firing.

–IANS

il/rn/vt

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