IDPs' homeward march runs to security barricades, over 200 injured
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, September 06 2023: More than 200 people were hurt in security forces' action and subsequent melee as thou-sands marched towards Tor- bung in Bishnupur district today.

Backed by tens of thousands of people, men and women displaced from Torbung and adjoining Meitei settlements were returning home to resettle at their original places when they met with security barricades at Kwakta and Phougakchao Ikhai.

In bid to control and disperse the sea of people who demanded removal of the barricades and a safe passage to their homes in Torbung, security forces fired great numbers of live rounds, rubber bullets, tear gas shells and mock bombs.

IDPs' homeward march runs to security barricades, over 200 injured
IDPs' homeward march runs to security barricades, over 200 injured

Many sustained injuries in the security forces' action while many others were hurt in stampedes.

More than 180 people suffered splinter injuries due to tear gas shells/smoke bomb explosions.

Some were hurt in the stampede and some fainted.

The injured were rushed to different hospitals for first aid and treatment.

Around 60 people were treated at Kwakta PHC, 70 at Moirang PHC, 15 at Cha-ritable Hospital Moirang, 49 in Bishnupur District Hospital and some in Raj Medi- city, RIMS and JNIMS in Imphal.

One journalist of the ANI also received splinter injuries on his wrist when a tear gas shell exploded.

The total number of people injured today may rise, said sources.

Significantly, tens of thousands of people were responding to the call of the Coordinating Committee on Manipur's Integrity (COCOMI) to allow displaced people of Torbung and adjoining areas to return to their homes.

Truck loads of men and women from across the State defied curfew and thronged Tidim Road, and attempted to march towards Torbung.

Notably, with their villages turned into a "buffer zone", being maintained by the security forces, thousands of displaced people of Torbung and nearby areas of Phougakchao Ikhai and Kwakta have not been able to return home since the start of the present conflict between the Kukis and Meiteis on May 3 .

While the villages have been turned into "buffer zones", there are areas within these villages which have been occupied by SoO Kuki militants since the early stage of the conflict.

Armed Kukis and their militants under SoO, during ATSUM's May 3 "Solidarity March", had vandalised, burnt down houses and shops belonging to people of Meitei community in Tor- bung and adjoining areas where the violence first broke out.

Today, the traffic of people along Tidim Road started building up from around 10 am with thousands marching/lining up from Moirang to Kwakta Bazar area, where security forces had built barricades to shut entry towards Phou-gakchao Ikhai.

At around 10.30 am, tens of thousands gathered at a public ground at Kwakta Bazar and later started marching towards Torbung.

A commotion broke out between the people and the security forces at Kwakta Bazar, forcing the latter to resort to firing tear gas shells to disperse and deter the crowds.

As the crowds grew in size, they broke past the security forces and marched till a bridge near Phougak-chao Ikhai where they were blocked by barricades installed by the security forces including the Rapid Action Force (RAF) .

The people raised slogans and demanded the removal of the barricades from Phougakchao to Torbung area and allow the displaced people to return to their homes.

They denounced the designation or creation of "so-called buffer zones" in their villages.

As the commotion grew, COCOMI representatives talked with Bishnupur district SP Meghachandra and the officers of other security forces.

During the talk, COCOMI's representatives urged the security forces to remove and move back their barricades.

As the security forces told them they had to take permission from the higher ups, the people, men and women, sat on the ground and remained there from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Afterwards, the crowds grew impatient and tried to remove the barricades.

Security forces including the RAF fired more than 200 live rounds, rubber bullets and a great number of tear gas shells, which hurt over 200 people.

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