In Manipur, violence erupted, leading to an internet ban and school closures after protests over the alleged abduction and murder of two students turned violent.
The situation remained calm but tense in Singjamei area of Imphal on Wednesday morning after a clash between students and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel left 45 protesters injured the previous night.
Manipur Police, CRPF and RAF personnel were seen deployed in strength throughout Imphal Valley in anticipation of possible protests and violence.
Approximately 50 students were injured in Imphal, prompting authorities to use batons and tear gas to control the situation. The initial outburst, involving uniformed students, was triggered by the circulation of photos showing two lifeless bodies believed to be the missing students.
A clash occurred on Tuesday night between RAF personnel and locals protesting the killing of two students, who had been missing since July 6, prompting the law enforcers to lob tear gas shells and fire rubber bullets at the agitators and baton-charge them, leaving 45 of the protesters, mostly students, injured.
Although the state government has declared a holiday for schools on Wednesday, students of some Imphal-based institutions vowed to congregate at their schools, sparking speculations of more protests later in the day.
“Security has been beefed up to prevent any untoward incident,” an official said.
The government swiftly reinstated a five-day ban on mobile and VPN internet services, only three days after lifting it. Schools were also ordered to remain closed until Friday due to the ongoing unrest, as misinformation and rumors on social media platforms posed further challenges.
A tense calm prevailed in Singjamei even though shops and business establishments were open and vehicles plied the roads.
The state government has relaxed curfew restrictions from 5 am to 9 pm in Imphal East and Imphal West district on Wednesday to facilitate the general public to purchase essential items including medicines and food, an official notification said.
“However, the relaxation shall not include any gathering/sit-in protests/rally without obtaining approval from the competent authority,” it stated.
Following the clashes, the state government has re-imposed a ban on internet mobile services with immediate effect till 7.45 pm of October 1 to prevent the spread of misinformation and rumours.
It was recently lifted after more than four months of imposition on May 3 when the ethnic clashes began.
The state government has declared a holiday for schools on September 27 and 29 in view of the prevailing law and order situation, with September 28 being a public holiday in view of Milad Un-Nabi (Prophet Muhammad’s birthday).
More than 175 people have been killed and several hundreds injured since ethnic clashes broke out in the northeastern state on May 3, when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal valley, while tribals, including Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mostly in the hill districts.