Imphal: Amid the Manipur crisis, crowds of people, mostly women and youths holding Meira (the traditional torch) formed human chains and marched on the streets of Imphal on Tuesday night.
Organised by the Coordinating Committee on Manipur (COCOMI), the gathering of torchbearers (Meira Paibis) shouted slogans that demanded the preservation of Manipur’s territorial integrity. The demonstration started at 8 pm on Tuesday and continued for about an hour.
The protestors also demanded that Assam Rifles deployment the state be replaced by Border Security Forces (BSF). They also demanded the state and Center to withdraw SoO agreement with Kuki militant groups and to declare them as ‘terrorists’.
Similar massive torch rallies were also witnessed in other valley districts, including Thoubal, Bishnupur and Kakching as a show of protest against the alleged nexus between the Assam Rifles and Kuki insurgent groups.
Slogans like ‘Remove Assam Rifles immediately’, ‘Withdraw SoO agreement’, ‘Long Live Manipur’, and ‘Save territorial integrity of Manipur’ were echoed across the streets of valley areas as the torch bearing protestors shouted.
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The violence, which first began in May 3, has already claimed at least 98 lives and over 300 persons have been injured, with massive loss of property due to arson and related violence.
Though the situation is said to be by and large under control in Imphal, firing incidents continue to be reported from different parts of Manipur.
On Tuesday, one BSF jawan was killed and two Assam Rifles personnel sustained injuries during an exchange of gunfire between the security forces and militants in Kakching’s Serou area.
On June 4, an eight-year-old Kuki boy with bullet injuries on his head and his mother, a Meitei, and another woman from the community were burnt alive when an ambulance with the three on board was waylaid by a mob and set ablaze in Manipur‘s West Imphal district.
The incident allegedly happened even as the ambulance was moving from an Assam Rifles camp outside Kangchup village in Kangpokpi district to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal under heavy guard and escort by Assam Rifles, Manipur Police commandos, and S Ibomcha, the police superintendent of Imphal West himself.
The three have been identified as Tonsing Hangsing (8), his 45-year-old mother Meena Hangsing, and Lydia Lourembam, aged 37, the officials said.
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