The Manipur government on Tuesday reimposed the ban on internet services for the next five days, hours after over 40 students were injured in protests against the killing of two Meitei teenagers who went missing in July.
Mobile internet services were restored in the state on September 23 after being suspended in the wake of ethnic violence that broke out between Meiteis and the Kukis on May 3. Over 200 people have been killed in the conflict.
The government on Tuesday also ordered the closure of all schools in Manipur on September 27 and 28 due to the “prevailing law and order situation”.
The students – Hijam Linthoingambi (17) and Phijam Hemjit (20) – are suspected to have been killed by Kuki militants, according to the Imphal Police. Their last location was traced to a tourist spot in the Churachandpur district on July 6.
On Sunday, their photos were widely shared on social media. In one of the photos, the two students are seen sitting next to each other while two armed men can be seen standing behind them. In another photo, their bodies are seen lying on the ground, with one of them beheaded.
On Monday, the Manipur government said that the inquiry of the case has been transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation. It also urged citizens to exercise restraint and allow the authorities to investigate the killing of the two students.
However, despite the government’s appeal thousands of students on Tuesday held protests in Imphal against the killing. Videos showed the security forces resorting to baton charging and firing tear gas shells to disperse the protestors.
In the evening, the protests grew louder still, particularly in the Singjamei area where security forces again used tear gas shells, according to The Indian Express.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh assured the people of the state that both the state and central governments are closely working to arrest the culprits.
“To further expedite this crucial investigation, the CBI director, along with a specialised team, will be arriving in Imphal tomorrow morning in a special flight,” he wrote on X, previously Twitter. “Their presence underscores the commitment of our authorities to swiftly resolve this matter. I have been constantly in touch with Hon’ble Union Home Minister Amit Shah to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
Twenty-four Meitei MLAs wrote a letter to Shah, urging that the Central Bureau of Investigation look into the murder expeditiously “as was similarly done earlier in the viral video case” – referring to the sexual assault of three Kuki women.
Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said that the Central and Manipur governments are making efforts to find a way by which a sense of normalcy returns in the state, reported PTI.
“...I think one part of the problem in Manipur has been the destabilising impact of migrants who have come,” he said during an event in New York. “But there are also tensions which obviously have a long history which precede that.”