After 48-hour bandh, civil society bodies in Manipur launch 'mass court arrest' demanding release of 5 people

IANS Photo

Imphal, September 21 (IANS) After the 48-hour shutdown in Manipur’s five valley districts demanding unconditional release of five ‘village protection volunteers’, various civil society organisations started “mass court arrest” from Thursday leading to clashes with the security forces in many places of these districts.  

Thousands of agitators, mostly women, tried to storm various police stations in five valley districts -- Bishnupur, Kakching, Thoubal, Imphal West, and Imphal East -- but the huge contingent of Rapid Action Force and other security forces prevented them by firing tear gas shells.

The protesters broke barricades at many places and the security forces had a challenging task while maintaining extra caution to check further deterioration of the situation.

The district authorities have cancelled the routine curfew relaxation period in different valley districts.  

The 48-hour shutdown, called by various civil society organisations and local clubs across the state demanding unconditional release of five ‘village protection volunteers’, badly affected normal life in five Meitei community dominated valley districts.

The shutdown ended on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday.

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

A large number of men and women came out on Sunday to protest the arrest and tried to storm Porompat police station in Imphal East district demanding release of the arrested persons, but the security forces repelled the police station attack by firing tear gas shells.

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

The agitating organisations earlier threatened to intensify the stir if the ‘volunteers’ were not released after the 48-hour bandh, which started from the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday.

Additional security forces were deployed in various vulnerable, sensitive and mixed-populated areas of the state, especially in the valley districts to avoid major incidents.

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”.