Around 50 agitators injured in a scuffle with police while demanding release of five village volunteers

Newmai News Network

Imphal: As many as 50 agitators, mostly women including a lady reporter, were injured as police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel resorted to tear gas shelling and mock bombs while dispersing agitators who were storming police stations across the valley districts of Manipur on Thursday.

Normal life across the valley district was disrupted today, for the third consecutive day, even after the two-day total shutdown ended on Wednesday midnight.

Failure on the part of the state government to release the five “village defense volunteers” arrested by the police even after the 48-hour general strike, womenfolk across the five valley districts stormed police stations in their respective areas starting from today morning while launching a mass court arrest stir.

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In the backdrop of the stir, the curfew relaxation hour in all the valley districts was shortened by several hours. The curfew was supposed to be relaxed from 5 am till 9 pm of the day.

The womenfolk demanded the police to arrest them too and put them in lock-ups until the release of the five “village volunteers.” While storming police stations, they chanted, “Arrest us too if you are going to arrest all those village defense volunteers.”

To control the large number of women backed by local youths, security forces fired tear gas shells and mock bombs.

At some police stations, the police also baton charged the agitators resulting in clashes between the agitators and security forces.

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Reports said that as many as 50 women agitators including a lady reporter were injured. Most of them were injured in the tear gas shelling.

They were rushed to different hospitals in Imphal with 34 of them being admitted at JNIMs hospital, Imphal.

The reporter of Imphal Free Press, Babie Shirin, was injured while covering the agitation in front of the Porompat police station of Imphal East district.

Talking to reporters, agitators storming the Porompat police station asked the reasons for enforcing laws strictly in the valley areas “while armed miscreants were allowed to move freely with arms in Kuki dominated districts.”

A leader said that they will not retreat unless the five persons are released without any condition.

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To note here, a team of police commandos attached to Imphal East district police arrested the five persons said to be “village defense volunteers with sophisticated weapons” from Kongba area of Imphal East district on September 16 night, according to reports.

Later, the police alleged that the five persons in camouflage uniform were impersonating the police commandos and the weapons recovered belonged to the state police looted during the initial stage of the violence unfolding in the state since the first week of May.

As per the FIR registered against the five persons, the police recovered one INSAS rifle with four magazines loaded with 78 live rounds, one SLR with three magazines loaded with 50 live rounds, two 303 rifles with magazines loaded with five rounds each and one Bolero brand vehicle in which they came with.

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The arrested persons are Moirangthem Anand Singh (45) of Singjamei Makha Leikai, Athokpam Kajit alias Kishorjit (39) of Kongba Nongthombam Leikai, Loukrakpam Micheal Mangangcha (30) of Khurai Ahongei, Konthoujam Romojit Meitei (28) of Sagolband Sayang Leikai and Keisham Johnson (35) of Singjamei Sorokhaibam Leikai.

While demanding immediate and unconditional release of the five persons, various organisations had imposed a 48-hour total shutdown with effect from the intervening night of September 18.

The total shutdown had evoked overwhelming response with protesters coming out in their respective areas and imposed road blockade across the five valley districts.

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