Around 30 students and two policemen sustained injuries during an agitation in Imphal Saturday. The confrontation with the law-enforcing authorities broke out after over 100 tribal students assembled at Kabo Leikai in Imphal West district demanding the release of arrested leaders of All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM).
Notably, the student leaders were arrested on charges of imposing a total shutdown and subsequent economic blockade in hill districts of Manipur after the state government failed to table the Hill Areas Committee-recommended Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) Amendment Bill, 2021 in the just-concluded Budget session of the Assembly.
Sources said the police tried to disperse the protesters Saturday citing the imposition of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC. This resulted in a law and order situation and the police resorted to firing tear gas shells and baton charge to remove the protestors. In retaliation, the protesters pelted stones against the police, resulting in multiple injuries.
Ningzan Jajo, a leader of All College Tribal Students’ Union, said: “We were holding a peaceful protest demanding the release of our leaders but the police harassed the students. We strongly condemn the high-handedness of the police. We will continue our agitation until the arrested ATSUM leaders are freed.”
Meanwhile, the chief judicial magistrate of Imphal West on Saturday remanded the arrested ATSUM leaders to 15 days in judicial custody.
During the course of the hearing, the prosecutor told the court that the shutdown or bandh in the hill areas called by the ATSUM had taken an ugly turn as the organization resorted to economic blockade and used violence to mark its protest.
The prosecutor further said that associates of the accused set ablaze the DTO office of Churachandpur and a vehicle belonging to Ukhrul police, besides vandalizing other government properties.
“It is highly required to arrest other associates of the accused persons in the present case and remand them in judicial custody to prevent other associates, organizations from indulging in illegal activities in the future,” the prosecutor added.