At least six women were injured on Sunday as police used tear gas shells and mock bombs against market vendors of Khwairamband Ima Keithel (women market), who enforced road blockade in the heart of Imphal City, demanding the unconditional withdrawal of Citizenship Amendment Bill.
In support to “one road indefinite mass agitation” of the Manipur Peoples Against Citizenship Amendment Bill (MANPAC), a few women announced a total shutdown of the market place till Tuesday and staged road blockade since Saturday morning causing heavy traffic congestion. The women protestors also spent the night in the middle of the road.
Shops in surrounding areas of the Kwairamband market including Imphal’s main market, Paona and Thangal bazaar, remained shut as a result of total shutdown call.
On Sunday, police asked the protestors to vacate the protest site by evening. However, the women protestors did not budge and insisted on continuing their protest. Police then resorted to firing of tear gas shells and used mock bombs to disperse the protesters, injuring at least six women protestors. All the injured were taken to Regional Institute of Medical Science (RIMS).
Despite the police crackdown, the women market vendors regrouped and resumed their protest late in the evening.
“We strongly condemn the police action. They have no regards for womenfolk. If their intention is to kill us let them but we will not move,” said Sabapati Devi, one of the protesters.
MANPAC is an umbrella of over 72 civil society organizations of Manipur, formed to spearhead agitation against the Citizenship Bill. The “On road indefinite mass agitation” of the MANPAC launched last Thursday entered its fourth day on Sunday.
Security measures have been beefed up in Imphal by the state government, even as another umbrella body named People’s Alliance Manipur has called for a 36-hour ‘cease work’ strike in protest against the Bill, from Monday morning.
A large number of security forces including state and paramilitary forces have been deployed in Imphal. The Manipur police department has also ordered for increasing security arrangement at the residence of MLAs and MPs of the state.
K Meghachandra, SP Imphal East district, said that there was no specific threat to MLAs or MPs but the arrangement is made as a preventive measure citing prevailing situation arising out of the Citizenship Bill.
“We are being careful that’s all. Given the prevailing situation, we cannot take the risk. A mob has no ideology or leader,” said the Imphal East SP.