In response to the escalating attacks by Kuki militants in Meitei-inhabited areas, particularly the relentless assaults on the state police commando in Moreh, women of Khwairamband took to the streets of Imphal, demanding immediate action to address the inadequacy in handling the security crisis.
The protestors expressed their dissatisfaction by demanding the removal of the current chairman of the Unified Command, Kuldiep Singh, and insisted on appointing a new chairman with a profound understanding of the ground situation to effectively counter the rising threats.
Not stopping at that, the women protestors also called for the removal of the governor, alleging inaction on the escalating violence in Manipur, and criticised the Assam Rifles for being biased and appearing as mere spectators during Kuki militant attacks.
The demonstration, which began in Khwairamband Keithel, saw protestors marching towards the Chief Minister’s bungalow and Raj Bhawan. However, their path was obstructed by security personnel before reaching Raj Bhawan.
Attempts to break through the security human barricade resulted in security personnel firing tear gas shells to disperse the protestors, however it was unsuccessful as the protestors stayed confined in the area. Fortunately, no casualties were reported.
Following the confrontation, a select group of representatives was permitted to meet with security advisor Kuldiep Singh at the Chief Minister’s secretariat.
Ashem Nirmala, a women leader of Khwairamband Keithel, addressed the media after the meeting, stating that the state forces are allegedly restricted from fully executing their duties to maintain law and order.
Nirmala accused the Assam Rifles of siding with Kuki militants and pointed fingers at the Meetei community. She asserted that Manipur no longer needs the presence of Assam Rifles and demanded their removal from the state.
During the meeting with the security advisor, Nirmala disclosed that they urged Kuldiep Singh to resign from his post, citing the total collapse of the security arrangement in Manipur.
The women leaders emphasised the necessity of Chief Minister N Biren Singh, who is familiar with the state, to assume the role of chairman.
“In this regard, Kuldiep replied that he was appointed by the chief minister as the chairman. However, he conveyed that he would apprise the matter to the chief minister for necessary action and also for the removal of the Assam Rifles from Manipur,” conveyed Nirmala.
The protest, lasting nearly four hours, led to the diversion of traffic coming from the side of Raj Bhawan. The demonstrators dispersed after giving a press briefing following their meeting with the security advisor.
In a similar protest at the street of Moirangkhom in Imphal, consisting of the volunteers of Youth of Manipur, Thawai Mirel, and inmates of relief camps as protestors; security forces resorted to firing several rounds of tear gas shells.
They were also advancing towards the chief minister’s bungalow to meet the chief minister, the governor, and the security advisor to address the escalating attacks by Kuki militants in Meitei-inhabited areas, particularly the relentless assaults on the state police commando in Moreh.
A leader of the YOM was detained by the police in the afternoon; however, he was later released unconditionally.
A protestor, who refused to identify herself, while speaking to the media, alleged that the chairman of Unified Command is biased for restraining the attack by Kuki militants on the state police commando at Moreh, resulting in the death of at least two personnel.
She questioned the deployment of large numbers of central forces in the state if they are unable to contain the ongoing aggression by Kuki militants.
“We want peace, we don’t want the central forces anymore who failed to discharge their assigned duties to contain the crisis,” she added.
After much confrontation that lasted till the evening, few representatives were permitted to meet the security advisor at the CM’s secretariat.
As a consequence of the protest, the Singjamei-Moirangkhom road was totally blocked, and traffic was diverted to other routes.
The protestors slowly retreated after meeting with the security advisor.