IMPHAL: A 48-hour statewide band was called by at least five local bodies and Meira Paibi units in Manipur demanding the release of five youths who were arrested for carrying weapons donning camouflage uniforms on Sunday.
The band, which was imposed from Monday midnight, has brought the twin districts of the state capital to a halt.
On Monday, Meira Paibis, the Meitei women’s torchbearer groups, took to the streets, blocking key roads at various locations across the state. Their primary demand is the immediate release of the detained youths.
The protests were held in Khurai and Kongba in Imphal East district, Kakwa in Imphal West district, Nambol in Bishnupur district, and parts of Thoubal district.
Tensions escalated rapidly as locals staged protests by erecting road blockades in their respective neighbourhoods, particularly in the twin capital districts of Manipur.
These road blockades severely disrupted normal vehicular movement, despite the police’s efforts to clear the roads.
Police, assisted by Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel, attempted to control the situation by using tear gas shells and mock bombs to disperse the protesters who had blocked the NH-102 at Singjamei area.
However, these attempts proved unsuccessful as the protesters regrouped in large numbers and resumed the blockade.
In the midst of these tensions, the Coordination Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) appealed to the government to avoid hostility and violence.
Speaking to the press at their office in Imphal on Monday, COCOMI leaders claimed that residents of the valley areas had voluntarily taken up arms due to the perceived failure of both state and Central security forces to protect lives and property in the fringe areas of the valley districts.
Jitendra Ningomba, the COCOMI convener, explained to the press that the government’s inability to control armed miscreants from the hillside who were attacking villages in the fringe areas had led to the formation of village defence volunteer groups.
The situation remains tense as the demand for the release of the detained youths continues to fuel protests and road blockades across Manipur. Authorities are closely monitoring the developments in the state to ensure the safety and security of all residents.