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Page last updated at 12:30 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 13:30 UK

Indian anger over 'arrested' girl

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

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Hundreds of angry protesters have defied a curfew in the Indian state of Manipur, to demand the release of an 11-year-old girl held by troops.

Reports say that the girl was taken by security forces after they failed to find her father, suspected of links to separatist rebels.

The girl is reported to have some physical disabilities.

Troops were conducting a search operation in Imphal, the capital of the north-eastern state.

Salam Dewan, the father of the abducted girl, said his daughter should be returned immediately and he was ready to face questioning.

Security forces in Imphal, Manipur
Imphal has been hit by protests against the security forces

"I am no rebel or insurgent, just a poor farmer. The government have no right to harass us like this just because we are poor," Mr Dewan said.

Manipur has seen security operations against separatist groups since 1980.

But there has been no statement from the security forces about this incident.

Hundreds of local people turned out in the streets of Imphal to demand the girl's unconditional release.

A group formed to demand the release of the child claimed that police had been demanding a bribe to release her.

"This is the limit of brutality and inhuman behaviour. How can men in uniform kidnap a minor girl just because they cannot find her father? " said Pholindro Konsam, convenor of the Apunba Lup, a group of militant Manipuri student and youth organisations.

"Salam was away, so the soldiers and policemen took away his disabled daughter and that has outraged the people of the locality," said Ningthoujam Memchatombi, convenor of the Joint Action Committee. "This is the ultimate in brutality. "

'Fake encounter'

The Apunba Lup has been leading a public campaign against suspected extra-judicial killings and illegal detention by security forces.

Photos of Chungkham Sanjit shortly before and after his death. WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

It is also demanding the abolition of a special law giving sweeping powers to troops on counter-insurgency duty.

The government maintains the law is necessary to restore normalcy to the troubled state.

Apunba Lup began its campaign after the alleged killing of a local youth, Chungkham Sanjit, by the police commandos in Imphal recently.

Mr Sanjit was suspected of being a militant of a separatist group. Officials denied allegations of an extra-judicial killing.

But Indian weekly magazine Tehelka carried pictures Mr Sanjit being dragged into a shopping mall by security forces and his lifeless body being dragged back into a police vehicle.



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