Manipur crisis: Rally to reclaim Meitei village turns violent

Imphal: People including crisis displaced villagers marched a rally from Sabungkhok village towards Gwaltabi village in Imphal East district on Thursday, which erupted fresh tension in the district.

The villagers wanted to assess the damage to their homes. The scene quickly escalated into a standoff with security forces, resulting in a confrontation.

The rally was organised by the Lamlai Kendra Village Volunteers Force (LKVVF). It sought to provide the displaced victims of Gwaltabi village a chance to assess the condition of their deserted homes.

The demonstrators were halted as they crossed Yaingangpokpi Bazar by a combined team of central and state security forces.

A heated exchange was ensued between the protesters and security personnel. The security forces fired several rounds of tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.

Some protestors retaliated by pelting stones and using slingshots against the security personnel.

While the male participants of the protest were dispersed after a tense confrontation, the female contingent persisted in their attempt to reach Gwaltabi.

Law enforcers managed to defuse the situation through verbal negotiations and restored normalcy.

Gwaltabi village has over over 200 Meitei villagers. It was set ablaze by alleged Kuki militants on May 28.

The Meitei-Kuki clash erupted on May 3 when Kuki attacked Meitei villages in the state.

Advisor to LKVVF, Devendro Mangsatabam condemned the security personnel’s actions.

He decried the use of excessive force against a peaceful rally. He questioned why the displaced villagers were denied access to their own village.

He expressed suspicions that the security forces were not safeguarding civilians but rather aiding the Kuki militants.

The demonstrators appealed to the government to allow them the opportunity to assess the ruins of their burnt homes. The demanded the reason behind the denial of entering to their own village.

The demonstrators removed a temporary checkpoint that had been set up between Yaingangpokpi and Sabungkhok. They regarded it as a government effort to establish a buffer zone.

No reports of injuries or casualties was reported in the confrontation.

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