In a first, security forces rain pellets on protesters in Imphal

Hundreds of students have taken to the streets of Imphal, the capital of Manipur, following the confirmation of the deaths of two students who had gone missing in July. The state government identified the victims as a 17-year-old girl, Hijam Linthoingambi, and a 20-year-old young man, Phijam Hemjit. Their bodies, allegedly depicted in photographs shared on social media, have raised suspicions that they were killed by Kuki militants amid ongoing ethnic conflicts between the Meitei and Kuki communities.

Excessive Force Used:

  • First Use of Pellet Guns in Manipur: The use of pellet guns by security forces in Manipur has come under intense scrutiny. This marks the first reported use of these weapons in the region.
  • Injuries and Casualties: Numerous students have sustained pellet injuries, with some undergoing surgeries to remove the metallic pellets. Around 90 pellets were extracted from a single victim.
  • Rapid Action Force (RAF) Implicated: Security personnel from the Rapid Action Force, a wing of the Central Reserve Police Force specializing in riot control, have been accused of firing on unarmed students with pellet guns.
  • Criticism and Investigation: Human rights activists and residents have criticized the excessive use of force by security forces, calling it a violation of the right to assemble peacefully. The Director-General of Police has announced a committee to investigate allegations of excesses by security forces.

Protests and Clashes:

  • Protest Erupts: Students took to the streets to demand justice for the slain students. Clashes between the security forces and the students ensued.
  • Students’ Perspective: Some students joined the protests out of emotional distress upon learning about the deaths of individuals their age. They sought peaceful rallies but were met with force.
  • Security Forces’ Perspective: Authorities assert that force was used as a last resort to protect sensitive government targets, alleging that armed individuals infiltrated the student ranks.

Political Fallout:

  • Dissatisfaction with Government: The high-handedness of security forces has fueled dissatisfaction with the state government. Critics argue that the police crackdown has been disproportionately concentrated in Imphal valley, creating tension in the region.

Human rights activists have decried the use of pellet guns, a condemned practice according to the United Nations and human rights organizations. The controversy has raised questions about the government’s commitment to upholding the right to assemble peacefully, enshrined in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.

Short News Summary:

  • Ongoing protests in Manipur after the confirmed deaths of two missing students have raised concerns about the use of excessive force by security forces.
  • Pellet guns, a first for Manipur, have been used, resulting in numerous injuries and surgeries to remove pellets.
  • Human rights activists and residents criticize the government for disproportionate force, while authorities argue it was necessary to protect sensitive targets.
  • Dissatisfaction with the state government has grown amid the controversy, with concerns about regional tension and uneven enforcement of security measures.

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