Life limps back to normalcy in Manipur capital as curfew relaxed

Sep 24, 2023 06:29 PM IST

Section 144 of CrPc 1993 was re-imposed on Thursday and continued till Saturday following fresh incidents of violence

The authorities in Manipur on Sunday relaxed curfew in Imphal West and Imphal East districts for the first time since its re-imposition earlier this week as the overall law and order situation improved, people familiar with the matter said.

Main market premises in Imphal (HT Photo)
Main market premises in Imphal (HT Photo)

The curfew under section 144 CrPc 1973, prohibiting the movement of any person outside their respective residences, is hereby relaxed from 5am to 9pm on September 24, 2023, “in order to facilitate the general public to purchase the essential items, including medicines and food items,” stated separate orders issued by the administration of Imphal West and Imphal East districts.

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Section 144 of CrPc 1973 (imposed from 5am to 9pm for September 21) was curtailed at 5pm on Thursday (September 21). There was no curfew relaxation from Friday till Saturday following fresh incidents of violence. Several mobs led by women demanding the release of five arrested Meitei men tried to storm police stations at various places in Imphal, in which more than 30 people were injured.

The five Meitei village defence volunteers were arrested earlier this month for carrying sophisticated weapons and donning special commandos uniforms of the police.

With the relaxation of the curfew for 16 hours (from 5am to 9pm) both in Imphal West and Imphal East districts, people were seen going to the market.

Many vehicles were also seen on the road resulting in traffic jams at many locations in Imphal.

Prior to the curfew, a 48-hour bandh was called by Meira Paibi (Meitei women groups) and various local organisations in Manipur affected the normal life in Imphal and other valley districts.

The bandh, demanding unconditional release of five “village defenders” who were arrested by police on Saturday, came into force from Monday midnight.

Following the bandh earlier this week, Khwairamband Keithel, the main market premises in Imphal wore a deserted look since morning as all the shops at Paona Bazar, Thangal Bazar, MG Avenue, Khoyathong road besides the iconic ‘Nupi keithel’ (women market), shut for the second day. Banks, business establishments and educational institutes also remained closed.

In an operation on September 16, the Manipur Police arrested five persons with “sophisticated weapons in camouflage uniform.”

Meanwhile, mobile internet services, which were suspended since May 3 when ethnic violence erupted in Manipur were restored on Saturday, hours after chief minister N Biren Singh made the announcement.

With the restoration of the mobile internet services, almost all the mobile phone-based business services in the state also started to re-activate their usual services including food deliveries and more.

“After a long pause in the business, we somehow resumed our services with a few restaurants that were open using the traditional model of calls and SMS for around two months. Just yesterday when the internet ban was lifted we resumed our online services,” said Bickychand Khangjrakpam, co-founder, Foodwifi, a popular food delivery service in Manipur.

Functionaries of the other service providers, including computer centres and those involved in online business, also shared a similar positive comment after the restoration of mobile internet services in the state.

The ethnic conflict that has engulfed Manipur since May 3 has claimed 175 lives, and injured 1,108, with 32 missing and nearly 50,000 people displaced besides burning a number of villages and localities.

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