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Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 16:52 GMT
Indian rebels shoot exam cheats
Separatist rebels in the remote north-eastern Indian state of Manipur have shot a number of people suspected of helping students cheat in exams, according to police officials.

At least seven people have been shot and injured in the past few days in what appears to be a draconian attempt to clean up the state's education system.

We shall definitely not allow people to take the law into their hands

Deputy police chief AK Parashar

The move has created panic among students, according to the Manipur police chief Abdul Ahad Siddiqui.

Deputy police chief AK Parashar said the rebels were hoping to "win the sympathy" of local people who complain about government corruption.

The outlawed Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) has said it carried out the attacks, saying it believed in quality education and would not allow anyone to get through exams by cheating.

The KYKL is a separatist group fighting for an independent homeland for the Meiteis, the largest ethnic community in Manipur.

'Rotten' education system

Two of the victims were exam invigilators, who were thought to be helping students frame their answers.

Some were allegedly caught by militants as they tried to pass answers to students outside exam halls.

Last year the KYKL ordered Manipuri women to wear traditional sarongs
According to Mr Parashar, reaction from local people was muted because "many think the state's education system is rotten and there is a need for some drastic overhaul".

"But we shall definitely not allow people to take the law into their hands," he added.

The BBC's Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta says it is not the first time that rebels groups in Manipur have played the role of social watchdogs.

Members of the state¿s largest separatist group, the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) have regularly executed drug traffickers, burned Burmese heroin and shot at those directing pornographic films or acting in them.

The rebels have also successfully enforced a ban on sale of liquor all over the state and on screening of Bombay-made Hindi films which they describe as symbol of decadent Indian culture.

Last year, the KYKL said Western and Indian influences were threatening traditional ways of life in Manipur.

They ordered women to wear traditional sarongs in public, instead of trousers or saris.

While their decrees worked at first, many women have since stopped observing the dress code, complaining it was too rigid.

See also:

19 Feb 02 | South Asia
India's gender 'holocaust' warning
28 Nov 01 | South Asia
India votes on right to education
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