IMPHAL: Tensions heightened in Manipur as protests demanding the unconditional release of five arrested youths turned violent on Thursday, leaving more than 10 people injured.
The escalating tensions led the state government to withdraw the previously announced curfew relaxations in the twin districts of Imphal starting from 5 pm.
Earlier in the day, security forces resorted to shelling of tear gas to disperse the agitating crowd attempting to storm police stations, leading to clashes in several areas.
Responding to a call by six local clubs and Meira Paibis, hundreds of protesters carrying placards and shouting slogans gathered outside police stations, including the Porompat police station in Imphal East and the Singjamei police station and Kwakeithel police outpost in Imphal West district.
They were demanding the release of the five village volunteers who were arrested for carrying sophisticated weapons donning camouflage uniform on September 16.
As tensions flared, police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel stationed at strategic locations fired multiple rounds of tear gas shells to disperse the demonstrators.
Similar attempts to enter the Mayang Imphal police station in Imphal West district and the Andro police station in Imphal East district were also reported.
Yumnam Hitler, the President of the All Langthabal Kendra United Clubs Coordinating Committee, told the press that the decision to launch the “voluntary mass arrest” agitation was taken after the government took no steps to release the five arrested youths.
On September 16, Manipur police had detained five individuals for carrying sophisticated weapons and wearing camouflage uniforms. In a statement, the police disclosed that the five had been presented before a judicial magistrate and were remanded to police custody.
To bring the situation under control, the district magistrate reimposed the curfew and official orders were issued to enforce restrictions on the movement of the general public outside their residences in Imphal West and Imphal East districts.