Manipur: Radical Meitei group takes out rally in Imphal; CM defends govt
A fresh bout of violence has erupted in Meitei-dominated Imphal valley since September 26.
GUWAHATI: The present crisis in Manipur is the “handiwork” of a group of people who want to “disintegrate” the state, chief minister N Biren Singh said on Saturday, even as the day also witnessed members of a radical Meitei outfit taking out a rally in Imphal amid a fresh bout of violence that erupted earlier this week over the alleged killing of two students.
Singh, who was addressing a gathering at a programme in Imphal, however, did not specify the group of people he was referring to. “Even though we are facing hardships due to the crisis, we are still living together by god’s grace,” he said.
We are on WhatsApp now. Click to join.
During the programme, Singh distributed ₹5,000 each as special assistance for the education of children of labour-card holders residing in relief camps.
During the day, when curfew was relaxed from 5am to 2pm in the state’s capital city, hundreds of members of the Arambai Tenggol, a radical Meitei organisation, gathered at Kangla Fort and pledged to “protect” Manipur, which has been in the grip of ethnic clashes since May 3.
Clad in black uniform, members of the outfit later took out a rally till Thangmeiband Athletic Union Ground in the city where they paid tributes to their colleagues who were killed in the ongoing ethnic violence in the northeastern state.
Arambai Tenggol, along with Meitei Leepun, another Meitei organisation, has been accused by the Kuki groups of instigating violence in the state. On May 26, weeks after the ethnic clashes erupted in Manipur, the Arambai Tenggol had announced that the outfit was being dissolved temporarily.
Meanwhile, a fresh bout of violence has erupted in Meitei-dominated Imphal valley since September 26, a day after photos of the bodies of two students from the community who had gone missing in July went viral on social media.
Following fresh protests, mostly led by students, the state government suspended mobile internet services for five days till October 1 — days after it had lifted the ban on mobile data — besides curtailing curfew restrictions in Imphal East, Imphal West and Bishnupur districts —all in Imphal Valley.
On Friday night, violent protesters attempted to attack the residence of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator and state minister L Susindro at Khurai Sajor Leikai in Imphal East district. Purported videos of the incident, doing rounds on social media, show a heavy presence of security forces, including state police and Rapid Action Force (RAF), firing tear gas shells and smoke bombs to disperse the protesters.
HT could not independently verify the veracity of the videos.
It came a day after a mob of around 500 people attempted to storm chief minister Biren Singh’s vacant ancestral house in Heingang locality in Imphal. On Wednesday, protesters allegedly tried to vandalise the residence of BJP’s Manipur unit chief A Sharda Devi in the city.
Despite restrictions in place in Imphal, protesters have come out and clashed with police and security forces at various places. More than 50 people, including students, have sustained injuries in tear gas shelling, baton charge and firing of smoke guns by security forces on Tuesday and Wednesday. At least two students have sustained serious injuries from pellet guns, one on his head and another on his right shoulder.
On Saturday, Biren Singh reiterated that security personnel involved in the “excessive use of force” on students during a crackdown on protest rally will be punished. “Those responsible for the extreme injuries will be arrested and be dealt with legally,” he added.
In a statement, the Manipur police said officers were also apprised of the injuries to students as well as security personnel. “The forces discussed to use minimum force in dealing with public especially students,” it added.
At least 178 people have been killed and over 50,000 displaced in Manipur since May 3, when ethnic clashes erupted between numerically dominant Meiteis and tribal Kukis.