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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 August, 2004, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Fresh protests erupt in Manipur
Pebam Chittaranjan
Chittaranjan's family wanted to carry his body in a procession
Fresh protests have erupted in India's north-eastern state of Manipur after the body of a demonstrator was cremated against his family's wishes.

Pebam Chittaranjan died after setting himself on fire in protest at the state's refusal to lift a sweeping federal anti-terror law.

His family wanted to carry his body in a procession but authorities refused and cremated it instead.

The incident comes amid a crackdown on anti-terror law protesters.

The protests first started after a woman, whom the military says was thought to be helping separatists, was allegedly raped and killed by Assam Rifles paramilitaries in mid-July.

Bridge burned

The protests were directed at the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives security forces wide-ranging powers to arrest and detain people.

Mr Chittaranjan set himself alight last week in protest at the act.

Thangjam Manorama, whose rape and murder sparked the protests against federal anti-terror laws in Manipur
Protests started with the death of Thangjam Manorama

He left a note saying India's federal government was insensitive to the people of Manipur.

His family wanted to take his body in procession to the site of his immolation but authorities refused.

They asked the family to cremate the body, but when the family refused to accept it, they went ahead with a cremation.

Widespread violence followed with activists burning part of the Lamlong bridge in the state capital, Imphal, on Wednesday night.

On Thursday, a large number of protesters damaged parts of the road to Imphal airport.

They burned tyres and blocked many other roads in Imphal and other parts of the state.

Officials said an indefinite curfew had been imposed in Bishenpur, where Mr Chittaranjan set himself on fire last week.

Authorities have deployed paramilitary troops and riot police in large numbers at several places in Imphal and its surrounding districts.

Bullet-riddled

Since Wednesday night, police have arrested at least 30 people leading the protests.

Angry residents in Singjamei in Manipur
More than 100 people were hurt in protests in Imphal last week

Manipur officials said those arrested would be charged with incitement to violence.

The BBC's Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta says eight of those arrested were women who had stripped in front of the Assam Rifles barracks in Imphal, to protest against the rape and killing of Thangjam Manorama, 32.

Manorama's family say soldiers took her from her home on 11 July.

A few hours later her mutilated and bullet-riddled body was found by a roadside.

On Thursday, soldiers of the Assam Rifles who are accused of raping and killing her refused to appear before a judicial commission investigating the incident.

The paramilitary force has questioned the commission's authority to summon its soldiers.

Protesters say the military is misusing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

The armed forces say they need it to help fight separatists in the state.

Protest leaders say their movement will continue unless the law is lifted from the whole of the state.


SEE ALSO:
Crackdown on Manipur protesters
19 Aug 04  |  South Asia
Bid to axe Manipur 'terror' law
12 Aug 04  |  South Asia
Midnight knock and a killing too far
12 Aug 04  |  South Asia
Many injured in Manipur protest
11 Aug 04  |  South Asia
Confusion over Manipur fighting
23 Apr 04  |  South Asia
Q&A: India's violent north-east
21 Nov 03  |  South Asia
Manipur curfew after child murder
13 Nov 03  |  South Asia


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