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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 September, 2004, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
Protesters block Manipur highways
Manipur protest
Widespread and violent protests followed Manorama's killing
Protesters in the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur are continuing to block two highways to push for the repeal of a controversial terror law.

But a spokesman for the 32 groups leading the protest says they are ready to negotiate with the government. The government has refused to lift the anti-terror law saying it needs it to fight separatists.

Manipur has been on the boil since the killing and alleged rape of a Manipuri woman held by Indian soldiers in July.

A spokesman for Apunba Lup, a collection of 32 students and rights groups which has spearheaded the protests, told the BBC they would negotiate with Delhi if the government would stop arresting their leaders and using the police to break up peaceful protests.

But he said they would continue to press for the lifting of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from Manipur.

The act gives the armed forces wide-ranging powers to arrest and shoot suspected rebels and search their homes.

Blockade

The protesters have put up barricades at various points on the two highways - one which connects Manipur to the neighbouring state of Nagaland and the other to Assam.

Transporters have kept their vehicles away out of fear
T Muivah
Police commissioner

Buses and trucks have stopped travelling on them although the police say some cars can be seen on the road.

"Transporters have kept their vehicles away out of fear," police superintendent T Muivah told Reuters.

Students groups have also called for a ban on the Hindi language being taught in schools and colleges across Manipur.

"What's the point in learning the national language when Delhi has a different set of rules for Manipur," Ksh Umesh, president of the All Manipur Students' Union, is quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Manipur has been hit by protests after the bullet-riddled body of Manorama Devi was discovered in July, a day after she was arrested by the paramilitary Assam Rifles.

The government says Ms Devi was a member of a separatist group but her family denies this.


SEE ALSO:
Woman at the centre of Manipur storm
27 Aug 04  |  South Asia
Arrest threat for Manipur troops
25 Aug 04  |  South Asia
Fresh protests erupt in Manipur
19 Aug 04  |  South Asia
Crackdown on Manipur protesters
19 Aug 04  |  South Asia
Midnight knock and a killing too far
12 Aug 04  |  South Asia
Q&A: India's violent north-east
21 Nov 03  |  South Asia


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