Protests in Manipur took a volatile turn as more than 10 individuals sustained injuries when security forces employed tear gas shells to deter demonstrators attempting to storm police stations. The protesters demanded the unconditional release of five youths who were arrested earlier.
The state government, in response to the escalating situation, swiftly canceled curfew relaxations in the twin districts of Imphal starting from 5 pm, as confirmed by officials.
The protests had been called for by six local clubs and Meira Paibis, with hundreds of participants carrying placards and chanting slogans. They sought to enter the Porompat police station in Imphal East, as well as the Singjamei police station and Kwakeithel police outpost in Imphal West district. However, the police and RAF personnel stationed strategically fired multiple rounds of tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.
One protester, identified as Th Bimola from Porompat, expressed their frustration, stating, "We were left with no option but to court arrest as the government failed to release the five village volunteers. If such village volunteers are arrested, who will protect the Meitei villages in the periphery of the hills and the valley from Kuki Zo militants."
Similar attempts to enter the Mayang Imphal police station in Imphal West district and the Andro police station in Imphal East district were also reported.
Yumnam Hitler, the president of the All Langthabal Kendra United Clubs Coordinating Committee, explained, "The decision to launch the 'voluntary mass arrest' agitation was taken after the government took no steps to release the five arrested youths."
The arrests of the five individuals had occurred on September 16 when Manipur Police apprehended them for carrying sophisticated weapons and wearing camouflage uniforms. The police subsequently stated that the five had been presented before a judicial magistrate and were remanded to police custody.
In light of the escalating violence, the state government announced the cancellation of curfew relaxation in the twin districts of Imphal. An official order by the district magistrate of Imphal West emphasized, "Curfew hours, which was relaxed from 5 am to 9 pm on September 21, stands withdrawn with effect from 5 pm, and restrictions on the movement of the general public outside their residences are enforced in all areas of Imphal West district." Similar orders were also imposed in Imphal East district, according to officials.