Manipur Violence: Irate Demonstrators Demand Accountability, Target Government Offices

The brutal killings of two Meitei students, purportedly by Kuki extremists, have ignited a powder keg of pent-up frustration and rage in the populace. As student-led demonstrations spread throughout the heart of Imphal, the masses converged en masse, casting a fierce and accusatory glare at Chief Minister N Biren Singh and the apparent failure of security forces to stabilize the situation.

In a particularly intense episode, hordes of enraged citizens, coming from all directions, descended upon the Deputy Commissioner’s Office of Imphal West District at Lamphelpat in the early hours on Thursday. Their fury manifested in significant property damage: torching two vehicles, causing considerable damage to two more, and vandalizing light poles at the entrance of the complex.

On Wednesday evening, in an increasingly volatile situation, the streets of Imphal bore witness to more pronounced manifestations of public resentment. Black plumes from burning tyres and logs were seen throughout the city, symbolizing the people’s deep-seated discontent with the government’s perceived inadequacies in preventing the tragic deaths of the two students. The situation escalated when security forces resorted to tear gas, prompting protesters to retaliate using slingshots and by hurling stones. The stretch of road from Yaiskul to Singjamei Bazaar emerged as the epicenter of confrontations between demonstrators and security personnel. Numerous students reportedly sustained injuries amidst these skirmishes.

Yesterday, the Manipur Police subsequently released an official statement, shedding light on an alarming incident where a mob allegedly targeted a police vehicle, setting it ablaze and assaulting an officer, culminating in the snatching of his firearm. The police asserted their intent to take decisive action against those involved in such offenses, highlighting that an intensive search operation was in motion for the recovery of the weapon and the apprehension of the culprits. In the wake of these events, the Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights intervened with a plea to the security forces. Advocating for the welfare and rights of the younger population, the Commission urged the authorities to refrain from using measures like lathi-charge, tear gas, and rubber bullets, especially against adolescent protesters. Around 100 students were injured in a clash on Wednesday.

The tragic deaths of two Meitei students have sent shockwaves throughout Manipur in an unprecedented manner. Images circulating online, capturing the students’ final moments and their lifeless forms, have ignited a firestorm of anger among the citizenry. Amidst the palpable anguish, calls for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence grew louder. Many questioned his apparent reticence, wondering if he remained silent because the victims were not naked. Although a few individuals from the Meitei community committed the deplorable act, it was predominantly members of the same community who intervened to protect these women from further harm.

For nearly five months, Manipur’s residents have yearned for stability and peace, but hope seems to wane with every passing day. The prevailing sentiment suggests a growing disillusionment not just with the state’s Chief Minister, but also with Prime Minister Modi, as they yearn for empathetic leadership and decisive action.