Over 50 students were injured in Imphal on Wednesday during a clash between security forces and Meitei students, according to hospital authorities, as protests against the killing of two Meitei youth spread across the Imphal valley. Many students were severely injured, the hospital staff said.

In separate incidents, groups of protesters also attacked the house of the state president of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Imphal, and set the party’s office in Thoubal on fire.

As of 5.50 pm, sounds of smoke bombs going off could be heard in the capital city even as a curfew was imposed in both Imphal West and Imphal East districts.

The two 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 Wednesday, over 1,000 students from various city colleges and schools started a “peace march” seeking justice and punishment for the killing of the duo from the city’s Haoground Singjamei area around 11.30 am. When the rally was 2 km away from the chief minister’s bungalow, security forces intervened and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Over 40 students were injured in protests on Tuesday with videos showing security forces resorting to baton charging and firing tear gas shells to disperse them.

Hours after the violence, the Manipur government reimposed the ban on internet services for the next five days.

The police fire tear gas shells at protesting students in Imphal on Wedneday. (Courtesy: Rokibuz Zaman)

On Wednesday, the protesting students wanted Chief Minister N Biren Singh to come out on the streets and address their grievances.

“We want the culprits and killers of our two Meitei students nabbed and punished,” said Lanthengangba Irengbam, a student. “The government has failed to catch them even after two months. The CM should come to us and explain what steps he has taken to bring them justice. Why has no arrest been made so far?”

A senior police officer told the students that a group of protesters could meet the chief minister at his home. But the students insisted they want the chief minister to ccome out and meet them. Even after one hour of hectic discussion, the issue could not be resolved.

Students protest in Imphal on Wednesday. (Courtesy: Rokibuz Zaman)

When the discussion was underway, someone from the mob threw stones at the security forces. The police and the Rapid Action Force fired tear gas shells, smoke bombs and rubber bullets in retaliation.

“They will rant against the police...but they threw the first stones today,” a police officer who was at the scene told Scroll. “The mob consists of students only.”

The official added: “They have come from different schools and colleges. But there is no leader. It was a spontaneous rally by the studentS. So we asked them to select 15 girls and 15 boys so that they can meet the CM, submit their memorandum and raise their demands.”

A mob also tried to enter the house of Manipur Bharatiya Janata Party president A Sharda Devi in Imphal.
“An unruly crowd tried to attack the house of a political leader, the joint security forces repelled the crowd by firing tear gas shells,” the Manipur police said in a statement. A police vehicle was also burnt by the mob, the police said. Some members of the crowd assaulted a policeman and snatched his weapon, the police added.

An angry mob also tried to enter the Thoubal deputy commissioner’s office at around 12.15 pm over the killing of the two students. The police resorted to tear gas and fired bullets to push them back.

“At least eight policemen, including me, were injured and many protestors are also injured,” Thoubal Superintendent of Police Sachidananda Soibam told Scroll.

Another mob burned down the district head office of Bharatiya Janata Party in Thoubal. “We are unable to go to the location [the BJP office] as roads are blocked by the women,” Soibam added.