Mobs try to storm Imphal Valley police stations to rescue 5 men arrested by cops
Protesters were demanding the release of five Meitei men arrested by the police for carrying sophisticated weapons and donning camouflage uniform
At least 30 persons were injured when security forces fired tear gas shells to disperse stone-pelting mobs led by women who tried to storm police stations at various places in Imphal Valley on Thursday, officials said.
Protesters were demanding the release of five Meitei men arrested earlier this month for carrying sophisticated weapons and donning camouflage uniform. Police said agitators led by women stormed police stations in a bid to rescue the five in custody.
According to police, the situation across the valley remained tense through the day as a large number of protesters attempted to storm several police stations in Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur and other districts.
“The situation was tense until evening but now it has been brought under control. No additional forces have been deployed as our existing personnel are enough to deal with the situation,” said K Sivakanta Singh, superintendent of police, Imphal East.
While some reports said nearly 30 people, mostly women, sustained minor injuries during the protest, police officers did not share details.
“We had to resort to firing tear gas shells to disperse the crowd and bring the situation under control. Several protesters were injured in that and some of our personnel also sustained minor injuries in stone-pelting by the protesters. It won’t be possible to give exact figures of those injured,” Singh stated.
On September 16, the Manipur Police arrested five persons carrying weapons and wearing police uniform. As per police, this followed “reports of extortion threats, misuse of police uniform and impersonation by armed miscreants”.
Thursday’s protest followed a 48-hour shut down called on Monday midnight by Meira Paibis (Meitei women groups) and other organisations in Imphal Valley demanding the release of the arrested five whom they termed as “village defenders”. Normal life across the valley was disrupted due to the shutdown, which ended on Wednesday midnight.
On Thursday, shouting slogans “arrest all of us, if you’re going to arrest village defenders,” a large number of women tried to storm police stations at Porompat, Heingang, Irilbung in Imphal East district, Singjamei and Kwakeithel in Imphal West district besides other police outposts in valley districts, police said.
A police officer aware of the day’s developments said personnel from the Rapid Action Force (RAF) along with state police prevented them from reaching police stations at some locations, triggering clashes.
Police said as the protestors started pelting stones injuring some RAF personnel, tear gas shells were lobbed to disperse the crowd. In the melee, some women were injured. The injured persons were evacuated to nearby hospitals including RIMS, JNIMS and Raj Medi-city for treatment, government officials said.
After the confrontation, the district administration curtailed the curfew timing for Imphal West and Imphal East districts from 5am to 9pm to 5 am to 5pm.
Capital Imphal falls under Imphal West and Imphal East districts.
“Curfew relaxation in respect of Imphal East district from 5am to 9pm for Thursday in order to facilitate the general public to purchase essential items, including medicines and food items is hereby cancelled with immediate effect…,” an order issued by the government said.
Manipur has witnessed ethnic violence between Kuki and Meitei communities since the first week of May, in which 175 persons have been killed,1,108 others injured, 32 missing and nearly 50,000 people displaced.