RAF silenced women’s ‘Long Live Manipur’ slogan with tear gas in Imphal

Imphal : The Rapid Action Force (RAF), known for their callous and notorious behavior towards civilians, once again resorted to extreme measures as they fired tear gas at hundreds of women protesters at Singjamei Bazar in Imphal on Tuesday evening. The protesters, united in their repeated slogans of “Long Live Manipur” and “No Compromise on Territorial Integrity,” were silenced by the aggressive actions of the security personnel. The actions of the RAF have resulted in the injury of 19 women, with one among them enduring severe injuries.

In a symbolic gesture of hope, the women protesters waved both India’s tricolour and the United Nations flags, believing that the security forces would respect these symbols and refrain from attacking them. One of the protesters expressed, “We hold high hopes for peace and unity to return to Manipur. By displaying the national flag of India and the UN flag, we aimed to convey our desire for peace and normalcy in Manipur to the security forces and the government.”

The women had gathered from 2:00 pm at Singjamei Bazar Chingamathak Traffic junction, after they were prevented from proceeding towards the Chief Minister’s official residence in Babupara area. Their demand was clear: they wanted long-term solutions to bring peace and normalcy to Manipur without compromising the state’s territorial integrity.

Unable to advance, the unarmed and frustrated protesters resorted to a sit-in protest, blocking one side of the road. State and central police forces closely monitored their every move until approximately 9:50 pm. The protesters questioned why a group of around a hundred, whose main intention was to submit a memorandum, was denied entry, while thousands of men and women were allowed to storm the Chief Minister’s Bungalow and its surroundings, where important offices are located.

One of the women protesters explained the motive behind their demonstration, stating that the violence that began on May 3 continues to wreak havoc, resulting in loss of life and property. Normalcy seems distant and unattainable. She added, “We wanted to meet the Chief Minister of the state with the hope that he would take steps to alleviate the suffering we are all experiencing. Unfortunately, the security forces are not giving us the opportunity to meet and express our dire situation to him. This is disheartening and deserves condemnation from everyone.”

Among the rally participants were the relatives and loved ones of the nine victims allegedly killed by Kuki militants in the Khamenlok incident. They hoped to submit a memorandum and share their harrowing experiences with Chief Minister N. Biren Singh. However, they were dismayed by the blockades imposed by state security forces and the Rapid Action Force, preventing their access and leaving them waiting in vain for the Chief Minister to hear their distressing stories.

Expressing their disappointment, the victims’ relatives asserted that they would not move an inch until the Chief Minister acknowledged their plight. They expressed that the state government had failed its people, stating, “We have witnessed the blatant incompetence of the government over the past two months. There has been no restoration of peace and normalcy. The hope for a better and once peaceful Manipur seems distant. We must collectively strive to protect our united Manipur from those who seek to divide it. We are prepared to make sacrifices, if necessary, for our state.”

Since the outbreak of violence on May 3, similar protests have occurred in various parts of the state, highlighting the inability of both the state and central governments to control the situation. The violence has claimed the lives of approximately 150 people, reduced thousands of houses to ashes, and left over 50,000 individuals homeless and seeking refuge in relief camps. Amidst the prevailing circumstances, it is imperative to urgently find a solution in order to avert further loss of life and property in Manipur.