Manipur Border Tensions: Tensions heightened at the border between Manipur’s Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts, as over 10,000 protesters aimed to dismantle army barricades, resulting in security forces retaliating with tear gas. This confrontation led to several injuries among the protesters due to a subsequent stampede.
Early on Wednesday, thousands, including many women, assembled at Phougakchao Ikhai and Kwakta within Bishnupur district, largely populated by the Meitei community. The massive turnout was in response to a call from a Meitei civil society group, the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), and its female contingent. Their intent was to relocate Army barricades from Phougakchao Ikhai to the Kuki-Zomi majority district of Churachandpur, with the objective of assisting Meiteis from Torbung to safely return home.
Foreseeing potential law and order disruptions, a complete curfew was reinstated by the Manipur government across five valley districts. Additionally, Cabinet Minister Sapam Ranjan Singh pleaded with COCOMI to reconsider their stance, reassuring them that several barricades had already been removed and displaced individuals were returning to undamaged homes.
Nevertheless, Wednesday witnessed thousands congregating in the region. Security measures in the peripheries aim to inhibit movement and contain unrest. By midday, protestors managed to bypass initial barricades in Kwakta, only to confront further barricades in Torbung, guarded by the Rapid Action Force (RAF) and the Army. In Phougakchao, discussions between COCOMI representatives and local officials were inconclusive. After three hours, protesters attempted to break through barricades, eliciting a strong response from the forces, with tear gas and live fire.
A security official recounted that while initial interactions were peaceful, stone-pelting provoked a harsher response. By evening, armed miscreants began erecting their own barriers near the official ones, maintaining a tense atmosphere.
The events in Manipur highlight the complex challenges local authorities face in maintaining peace and order, as various groups assert their rights and security forces aim to ensure safety.