48-hour shut down hits normal life in Manipur’s five districts

IANS Photo

Imphal, September 19 (IANS) Normal life was badly affected in the valley areas of Manipur on Tuesday as various civil society organisations called a 48-hour shut down across the state demanding unconditional release of five ‘village protection volunteers’.

Officials earlier said that Manipur Police arrested five persons on Saturday with sophisticated weapons in camouflage uniform.

Protesting this arrest, a large number of men and women came out to protest on Sunday and tried to storm Porompat police station in Imphal East district demanding release of the arrested persons.

Joint security forces repelled the police station attack by firing tear gas shells. In the melee several men and women including a Rapid Action Force personnel received minor injuries.

In view of the shutdown in five valley districts, all types of vehicles, including those of security forces were off the roads, inter-district, inter-state buses and trucks did not operate.

Markets, shops, business establishments, banks, government offices, educational institutions were closed in the five valley districts -- Bishnupur, Kakching, Thoubal, Imphal West, and Imphal East.

Examinations of various institutions scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday were postponed.

Movement of Central and state security forces were obstructed in many places as the agitators blockaded many roads.

The civil society organisations earlier set a deadline to release the five detainees, but police rejected the demand.

The agitating organisations threatened to intensify their agitations if the ‘volunteers’ were not released after the 48-hour shut down, which was started from the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday.

Security has been tightened further and additional security forces deployed in various vulnerable, sensitive and mixed populated areas of the state.

M. Memcha, a spokesperson of the agitating organisations, claimed that the village protection volunteers were “protecting Meitei villagers from the attacks of the Kuki tribals and armed militants”.