Protests in Manipur over dropping of Monika from Olympic squad

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Imphal, Aug 8 (UNI) Hundreds of agitators today protested against the exclusion of weightlifter Laishram Monika Devi from the Olympic squad by burning tyres and wooden planks even as Manipur remained paralysed following bandh calls given by different organisations.

The United Committee Manipur (UCM) called a 22-hour general strike from 2200 hours yesterday while the ACOAM-Lup called a 24-hour general strike from midnight last night.

The Khwairamband Keithel, the main market of Manipur, was deserted and large number of security personnel were stationed in the area to prevent any untoward incident.

All shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed following the bandh. All the inter-state and intra-state bus services were also cancelled.

Presently, state Sports and Youth Affairs Minister N Biren and officials of the Manipur Weight Lifting Association are in New Delhi to discuss the matter.

''Nothing can be done if the result is positive. However, if foul play is suspected, then a test should be conducted again,'' Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh said.

MP from Manipur Dr Thokchom Meinya has also written to Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs (Independent Charge) Dr M S Gill, demanding a thorough probe and transparency in the matter.

UCM vice-president Yumnam Chitaranjan alleged that Ms Monika was informed about the result of her failure in the doping test when she was about to board the plane and said the entire process was ''pre-determined''.

The UCM alleged that some officials of the Indian Weight Lifting Association were indulging in dirty politics and General Secretary B Y Gulati was trying to send Sailaja Pujari, who had tested positive earlier, to the Olympics.

Several political parties, social organisations, student bodies and NGOs of Manipur denounced the alleged conspiracy to prevent Ms Monika from participating in the Olympics.

Ms Monika has claimed that over 30 dope tests had been done earlier and all had turned out to be negative.

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