IMPHAL, SEPTEMBER 26: Altogether 45 students were injured in Manipur’s Imphal Valley on Tuesday as the police fired tear gas shells and baton-charged a mob protesting against the killing of two youths who were allegedly kidnapped in July, officials said.
All schools in the State will be closed till Friday in view of the prevailing situation.
The students of Imphal-based schools and colleges brought out the protest rallies hours after photos of the bodies of the two youths went viral on social media, demanding arrest of those involved in the killing.
The protesters clashed with the police near Sanjenthong in Imphal East district when security forces stopped them from advancing towards the Chief Minister’s Secretariat here.
The police used tear gas shells and batons to disperse the agitators.
“School and college students took out a rally in Imphal to protest against the killing of the two youths. As the students were heading towards the CM’s Secretariat, security personnel took action to disperse them”, a police officer said.
Over 45 students were injured in police action and admitted to various private and Government hospitals in Imphal East and West districts, officials of the medical facilities said.
Of them, 31 are being treated in a private hospital, 12 others are in two Government facilities. Two others were admitted to another private hospital. Because of the prevailing law and order situation, the State Government in a notification declared that all Government and private schools will be closed on Wednesday and Friday.
Thursday is a public holiday in the State on the occasion of Eid-e-Milad, the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad.
Photos of the bodies of the two missing students surfaced on social media on Monday, following which the Manipur Government has asked people to exercise restraint and allow authorities to investigate the “kidnapping and killing” of them.
The two youths were identified as Phijam Hemjit (20) and Hijam Linthoingambi (17).
Students also took out rallies at Uripok, Old Lambulane, Singjamei in Imphal West district demanding arrest of those involved in the killing of the two youths.
Similar clashes between students and security forces have been reported from Thoubal, Kakching and Bishnupur districts.
Abungo Th, a student who participated in the protest, told the media: “The missing students were killed and the Government is yet to arrest the killers. The location of the bodies where they have been buried is still unknown. The Government is reluctant to take action.” In a statement issued by the Secretariat of Chief Minister N Biren Singh late on Monday night, the State Government said the case has already been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“The State police, in collaboration with the Central security agencies, are actively investigating the case to determine the circumstances surrounding their disappearance and to identify the perpetrators who murdered the two students. The security forces have also started the search operation to nab the perpetrators”, the statement said.
Security personnel have been put on alert, and additional measures taken to prevent any incident after the photos of the students have gone viral, a senior officer said.
The Government assured people that “swift and decisive action will be taken against all those involved in the kidnapping and killing of Phijam Hemjit and Hijam Linthoingambi”, the statement said.
The Government is committed to ensuring justice and will impose severe punishment on any perpetrator found responsible for the heinous crime, it said.
The police had previously said that the whereabouts of the two were not known and their mobile phones were found switched off.
The last location of their handsets was traced at Lamdan near the winter flower tourist spot in the Churachandpur district, they had said earlier.
Manipur has been witnessing ethnic violence since early May.
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.
Meanwhile, mobile internet services were suspended for 5 days in Manipur following fresh protest in the State that flared up after two students were brutally murdered by suspected armed men. State Government official said internet services have been suspended in view of the prevailing law and order situation and in an attempt to curb the spread of disinformation, false rumours and other violent activities.
“The State Government decides to suspend/curb the mobile internet data services, internet/data services through VPN in the territorial jurisdiction of the State of Manipur for 5 days with immediate effect till 7:45 p.m. of October 10”, the circular said.
(PTI & Agencies)