Last Updated on September 28, 2023 by SPN Editor
Imphal/September 28, 2023 (SPN) | Approximately 175 students sustained injuries as a result of the actions taken by security forces, including the Rapid Action Force (RAF) and the police, who fired tear gas shells and pellet guns (issued to the RAF) against students protesting for justice in various regions of the state on Wednesday.
RAF and police personnel fired tear gas shells and pellet guns at the student demonstrators in Yaiskul and near Kangla, resulting in numerous injuries.
The injured students were promptly transported to various medical facilities for treatment. Out of the 175 students who were injured, three have been admitted to JNIMS, 19 to Kripadashini Advanced Hospital, 53 to Advanced Hospital, 35 to Raj Medicity, six to Shija Hospitals, and 59 to RIMS Hospital.
The majority of these students suffered injuries from tear gas shelling and pellet guns issued to the RAF.
At RIMS Hospital, 59 students, including females, received treatment, with five of them bearing pellet gun wounds. Among them are Limeson Thokchom (19), a Manipur College student from Sekmaijin, who sustained head injuries; Thokchom Mani (18), a Naorem Birahari College student from Heingang Mayai Leikai, who suffered injuries to the ear and head; Oinam Nongdamba (23) and Wangthoiba Wangkhem (19), both students of DM College of Science; and Laishram Rohit (20) of Shantipur, Mayang Imphal.
At Advanced Hospital, four out of the 53 students were injured by pellet guns. These included Kingson Nongthombam from EK Higher Secondary School, Tongbram Suresh from CC Higher Secondary School, Borish Nongmaithem from IMA, and Samom Goro from Lamlai Higher Secondary School.
Among the six students brought to Shija Hospitals, Loitongbam Kishan Singh (16) sustained shoulder injuries, while Oinam Sunder (17) and Laishram Biswanath (17) suffered leg injuries from pellet rounds fired by the RAF. Among the 35 students taken to Raj Medicity, six had been injured by pellet guns.
Thokchom Johnson (18) was struck in the stomach, leg, and both hands, Chingkheinganba Kshetrimayum (18) in the chest, and Kingson across most of his body. Tourangbam Pareihanba (20) sustained an injury to the eye, Langam Romakanta Singh to the elbow, and Samom Goro (referred from Advanced Hospital) on the chest, head, and leg.
Even though the state government had declared a holiday for schools and colleges due to the volatile law and order situation, stemming from the viral photos of two students who were kidnapped and killed by Kuki militants, a substantial number of students from various educational institutions came in their uniforms and organized protest marches.
On Wednesday, a group of students congregated at HAO Ground in Pishum around 9.30 am and initiated a march toward the Chief Minister’s secretariat. Security forces intercepted them near Krishna Premi oil pump, where water cannon vehicles were stationed.
Ten students from the group approached Imphal West SP and explained their intent to submit a memorandum to the Chief Minister and Governor. The SP informed them that the Governor was out of town and that only a limited number of students could meet with the Chief Minister.
As a group of 20 students prepared to advance, a delay ensued as they deliberated over certain points to be included in the memorandum. Meanwhile, some students moved toward the barricades and chanted slogans.
As the number of student protestors swelled, security forces resorted to using tear gas shells and smoke bombs to disperse the crowd, resulting in several student injuries.
Later on, the SP permitted 30 students to meet with the Chief Minister. Following their meeting, the students informed the media that they had submitted a memorandum outlining various demands. These demands included the swift identification and arrest of those responsible for the murder of the two students within three days, the cessation of excessive use of force against student protestors, the recovery and timely handover of the deceased students’ bodies to their families within three days, an end to the partisan conduct of central security forces, and the lifting of the ban on mobile internet service.
The memorandum also called on the Chief Minister to travel to Delhi and take necessary actions to resolve the crisis within three days. The students emphasized that the Chief Minister appeared perturbed upon reviewing their demands and warned that they would initiate various forms of protest if the government failed to meet their demands.
Thokchom Khogendro Singh, a student leader, stated, “We are staging a peaceful protest against the kidnapping and murder of our fellow students, and we have requested everyone to wear black badges as a mark of protest.”
Throughout the day, young men and women were witnessed rallying from various locations, many of them carrying placards to protest the killing of two students who had gone missing in July. The emergence of images depicting their lifeless bodies had recently ignited public outrage.
Subsequently, after leaving the Chief Minister’s secretariat, student representatives engaged with some students who were waiting for them near Kanglapat footpath. As sounds of tear gas, pellet guns and smoke bombs being deployed emanated from the Moirangkhom area, the students once again proceeded towards the Chief Minister’s residence, chanting slogans.
However, their advance was halted by the police near Nupilal Complex, and they were directed to move towards HAO Ground for a joint meeting with the other protestors. Instead of complying, the students redirected their march toward Moirangkhom via Keishamthong.
Security forces deployed in the area issued warnings for them to halt, and when the students persisted, tear gas, pellet guns and smoke bombs were deployed.
Meanwhile, additional students and civilians from the Singjamei direction joined the procession towards Moirangkhom. Some among them utilized slingshots and hurled stones in the direction of the security forces.
Later, members of the Meira Paibi organization intervened to pacify the protestors. While engaging with security forces, some protestors employed slingshots, prompting the security forces to respond with tear gas and smoke bombs.
The confrontation between the protestors and security forces persisted well into the night. In addition to these events, the protestors set fire to a Maruti Gypsy vehicle belonging to the SDPO Porompat and confiscated a crowd control gun in the Loklaobung area around 8 pm.
In Bishnupur district, a rally was orchestrated by six student organizations on Wednesday, commencing from the Forest Gate and culminating at the Mini Secretariat Complex, Bishnupur. This rally garnered the participation of students and meira paibi activists from the district.
The rallyists convened at the DC Bishnupur office gate, where they presented a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner L. Bikram. Their demands encompassed the swift and stringent punishment of the perpetrators of the murders and the reopening of educational institutions.
Certain protestors were granted an audience with the DC, accompanied by the police and ADM H. Bobby Sharma. Subsequent to this meeting, student leaders engaged with the media, posing inquiries to the DC regarding the absence of arrests in connection with the case and questioning whether the rule of law is selectively applied only to certain regions.
They issued a warning that should the assurances given by the DC fail to translate into action, they would embark on a vigorous movement.
Concurrently, students from Jawaharlal Navodaya Vidyalaya, Bishnupur, formed a human chain along Tong-jei Maril (Old Cachar road) on Wednesday. They advocated for action against the perpetrators of the two students’ killings and the resumption of regular classes.
Sit-in protests and mass meetings were conducted at Oinam Bazar and Ningthoukhong Bazar on Wednesday to condemn the killings. In Thoubal district, a protest rally was organized by six student bodies, demanding justice for the murdered students.
The rally took a violent turn upon reaching the DC Thoubal Office, as mobs damaged the gate and resorted to stone pelting. Notably, the mob vandalized the main gate, sentry post, and several vehicles within the DC office complex, as well as the SBI Thoubal Branch and the District Treasury Office buildings.
The ongoing stone pelting and the use of slingshots by the mob led to extensive damage to windows and doors within the DC’s Bungalow, situated inside the complex. During the violence, Thoubal SP Sachidananda Soibam, Additional SP (Ops) Wangkhomba Okramcha, OC Sudhir from Thoubal police station, and personnel from Thoubal Police and BSF sustained injuries. Two journalists were also hit in the chest by the stones.
In response, the police deployed tear gas shells and rubber bullets, resulting in injuries to approximately 17 students. Earlier in the day, despite a government order to close schools, numerous students arrived at their respective institutions in Thoubal and Khangabok, taking part in rallies en route to the DC Office.
Some of the protesters were granted an audience with DC A. Subhash, during which they presented their demands, including the arrest of the culprits involved in the students’ killings within 48 hours and the permission for students to attend classes.
Although the student representatives relayed the outcomes of their discussions, the crowd remained unsatisfied, insisting that the DC himself provide assurances. With their demands unmet, the mob resorted to pelting stones, resulting in outbreaks of violence.
In another incident, a mob set fire to the BJP Thoubal Office on Wednesday, as a protest against what they perceived as the government’s silence regarding the murders of the two students by Kuki militants. A significant number of individuals from various parts of Thoubal district also descended upon and set fire to the BJP Thoubal Office at Khongjom.
Two individuals sustained injuries due to an LPG cylinder explosion that occurred within the office. Subsequently, the mob proceeded to Wangjing, where they vandalized the BJP Wangjing Tentha Mandal office.
Meanwhile, meira paibi activists from Thoubal Wangmataba Doctor Maning and the Social Service & Welfare Association (SSAWA) Club organized a sit-in protest at Wangmataba Magic Parking on Wednesday, protesting against the killings of the two students. Simultaneously, students and meira paibi activists in Kakching organized a rally. This rally, organized by six student bodies, traversed Kakching Keithel and culminated at the DC Kakching Office, where they submitted a memorandum to DC Somorjit Salam.
Additionally, protest rallies and sit-ins were staged at Langmeidong and Hiyanglam Wabagai Lamkhai Keithel on Wednesday.
It is worth noting that a clash erupted on Tuesday between RAF personnel and local residents who were protesting the killing of two students that had been missing since July 6. This confrontation prompted law enforcement to utilize tear gas shells, rubber bullets, and baton charges against the agitators, resulting in injuries to 60 of the protesters, the majority of whom were students.
Despite the government’s declaration of a school holiday on Wednesday, students from some Imphal-based institutions remained committed to congregating at their schools. Following these clashes, the state government swiftly reinstated a ban on mobile internet services, effective immediately until 7.45 pm on October 1, in an effort to curtail the dissemination of misinformation and rumors.