Protests over student killings enters day 3
Amidst the escalating crisis in conflict-ridden Manipur, protests against the tragic murders of two Meitei students have persisted for a third consecutive day across most areas of the Imphal Valley. On Thursday evening, demonstrators gathered outside the Chief Minister’s residence in Heingang, Imphal East, demanding justice.
In defiance of curfews imposed in certain parts of Imphal, the protests continued unabated. Today, the Imphal West DC complex fell victim to a mob attack, with the perpetrators setting two parked four-wheelers ablaze. The complex’s infrastructure lay in ruins, and the CCTV surveillance system was also destroyed, Mirror Now reported.
According to The Deccan Herald, at least six influential Meitei student organizations jointly organized a protest, marching from Kwakeithel to Raj Bhawan in Imphal. Security forces accompanied them to prevent any potential escalation of violence.
Members of the Democratic Students’ Alliance of Manipur, one of the student bodies, alleged that the government had failed to locate the two missing students while allowing central forces to employ “brutal means” against innocent protesters engaged in peaceful demonstrations. They claimed that security forces used tear gas shells, stun grenades, and batons against the demonstrators. One protester, as quoted by The Deccan Herald, expressed their outrage, stating, “It is a shameful reflection on both the government and our Rapid Action Force (RAF).”
Reportedly, the clashes between the Manipur security forces and the students have resulted in injuries to more than 50 students.
Meanwhile, as the situation in Manipur descends into violence, the Union Home Ministry has summoned IPS Officer Rakesh Balwal back to Manipur. Currently serving as SSP Srinagar, Balwal has yet to be assigned a new role within the state.
Manipur DGP sets up committee to probe ‘excessive use’ of force
Meanwhile, following the allegations that there has been use of excessive force on protesters by police, the Manipur government on Thursday has formed a committee to probe the matter.
The order issued by the DGP said, “There have been various reports/allegations of use of excess force by the security forces to maintain law and order over the last few days in the Imphal area.”
The committee will be headed by IGP (Administration) K Jayanta, the order said, adding that it will ‘submit the report at the earliest.”
The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) has also condemned the “brutal act” of RAF and security forces against student protesters on Wednesday and termed it as a “violation of human rights.”
MHA extends deadline for capturing data
Amidst the unrest and the violence, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has officially announced an extension of the deadline for the comprehensive capturing of biographic and biometric details of illegal migrants in the state of Manipur. The extension grants an additional six months, extending the deadline to 31 March 2024. This decision, according to the MHA notification, comes after the State Government and the state legislators currently in New Delhi had requested the MHA to extend the deadline to ensure the capturing of data on all illegal migrants from Myanmar, in view of the difficulties in the present situation.
“Considering the need for more time to complete the exercise, the Ministry has agreed to extend the deadline and has also instructed the State Government to take the appropriate necessary actions to complete the exercise within the revised time period, i.e., by March 31, 2024,” the notification added.