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Probe into Feb 10 Khwairamband crackdown demanded
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, February 18 2019: Several women organisations have demanded the State Government to institute a thorough enquiry into the brutal police crackdown on women vendors of Khwairamband Keithel during an anti-CAB protest agitation on February 10 .

A combined force of State police and paramilitary forces, in their efforts to thwart the anti-CAB protest, fired several rounds of tear gas shells and mock bombs.

Six women vendors sustained injuries in the crackdown.

Of the injured victims, Thounaojam Premila (52) of Mutum Phibou and G Lembi of Thongju are still undergoing treatment in Orthopaedics ward of RIMS.

With one rib bone broken, Premila is suffering from breathing difficulties, back pain and blurred sight.

Lembi too is suffering from breathing difficulties and acute back pain.

Talking to The Sangai Express, Manipur Keithel Phambi Apunba Lup president Mema said that the anti-CAB protest they staged on different occasions was within their democratic rights.

"The protest demonstration of February 10 did not threaten the law and order even by the slightest degree.

None of the women protesters were armed with even crudest weapons like stones, sticks etc.

But a strong combined team of State police and paramilitary forces unleashed brute force and it was something which could nof be justified under any circumstances", Mema said.

She said that the crackdown was a direct assault on the unarmed protesters and many women who are sole bread winners of their respective families were injured in the crackdown.

The State Government must institute a thorough enquiry into the brutal crackdown, she demanded.

Lembi said that the crackdown was aimed at driving away the protesters but it was driven by an intention to massacre the women protesters.

"As carpets used by women vendors for halting the nights at the market were loaded in a police vehicle, I was talking with the Imphal West Additional SP asking him not to take away the carpets but one policeman came and placed a mock bomb just beside my feet", Lembi said.

"The next moment, the two police personnel ran away and I tried to kick away the mock bomb but I was blinded and rendered breathless by a thick volume of smoke which emanated from the mock bomb.

Suddenly I collapsed on the ground which caused severe damage to my backbone.

I found my myself on hospital when I regained consciousness", Lembi recounted.

She too demanded a thorough enquiry into the crackdown and also to take up befitting action against all those security personnel who committed unwarranted excesses.

Premila said that her husband is a heart patient and she has been looking after all the needs of the family including educational expenses of her eldest son who is currently studying outside the State.

She said that she is now facing a huge psychological burden thinking about how he would meet the daily requirements of the family in case she must suspend her trade for a long time due to the injuries she suffered during the crackdown.

Roadside Vendors Welfare Association president Kshetri Tama asserted that there was no reason for security forces to shell the peaceful women protesters with mock bombs and tear gas.

She also demanded an enquiry into the crackdown.

Women Action for Development (WAD) secretary Sobita Mangshatabam while pointing out that there have been instances where protesters were killed when they were attacked with mock bombs and tear gas shells, asserted that security personnel were attacking the right to life of the women protesters when they fired several rounds of mock bombs and tear gas shells at Khwairamband Keithel on February 10.Even if the mock bombs and tear gas shells did not hit protesters directly, smoke churned out by them poses serious health hazards, Sobita said.

She said that a mega health check-up camp should be organised for all the protesters and women vendors who took part in the February 10 anti-CAB protest and the Government should provide adequate compensation to all the injured victims.

Pointing out that India ratified the UN Convention on the elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1993, Sobita said that security forces should refrain from harassment of women in any form.


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