MTFD Peace Rally Turned Sour: Lathi Charge, Molestation, Injury, Jail-time, F.I.Rs & More

Earlier today, Tuesday- 7th June, a group of 500 young tribal students and professionals from all over Manipur gathered outside Manipur Bhavan for a peaceful protest. Standing in between the protesters and the Bhavan were over 150 grim faced policemen with their Lathis (later joined in by two more buses loaded with more policemen). 

The protest rally was organized by the Manipur Tribal’s Forum Delhi (MTFD) against the attempt by an all-party delegation from Manipur to get the central government’s assent on three contentious Anti-migrant Bills.

The protesters were waiting for the delegation from Manipur to talk to them as assured by the resident commissioner. But instead, even at 7pm the doors of Manipur House laid shut. Holding placards and echoing in their discontent, the effigies of the state CM O.Ibobi Singh, Minister TN Hoakip and Gaikhangam were burnt outside the Bhavan.

burning effigies
burning effigies

However, this peace protest took a grim turn when some of the residents on the terrace of the Manipur Bhavan began provoking the protesters. A source witnessed the said residents throwing down matters (he was unable to specify due to the distance) into the protesters which led to the violent outbreak.

As it was supposedly a peace rally, student leaders and young girls were chanting their discontentment in front of the gate. So, when the gate was thrown open to hundreds of police charging towards them with lathi and water canoes, they had to bear the brunt of the violence.

A source, who was in the front line, claimed that the attack came too sudden that most of the protesters had no time to recoil or escape the lashes. As a result, over 50 protesters were injured, some requiring serious medical attention.

A protester was hit on the head with a brick thrown from over the wall of the Bhavan.

Eyewitnesses recount having not seen the presence of any policewomen, except policemen. A good number of women sustained serious injury, one that needed seven stitches on the head, fractured fingers, while most of them bore the bruises of lathi. Two women reported being molested by the policemen and being let go.

According to a source, one of the molestation was near rape, where she was groped all over her body, even her private parts, while she was hiding behind a bush.  As per the latest input from MTFD, four young mothers were indiscriminately thrashed, beaten, slapped, kicked and pulled by the hairs.

The protesters were chased over two kilometers. One of the student leaders recount witnessing ten policemen beating up one protester. Another student leader recount how he had to flee when a group of policemen chased him while he was trying to help a protester who had deep wounds on the head, bleeding profusely.

IMG-20160608-WA0013

It has been said that several policemen also sustained injuries, while one has been reported to have been stabbed. However, the facts have not been ascertained yet. The protesters have also been said to have damaged PCR vans that were parked in the area.

As per 3:45 am, 8th June, there were 23 men (+ 9 other brought in from the hospital) and 21 women detained at Chanakya Police Station. The exact number of injured protesters are yet to be ascertained as most of them were unable to seek medical attention at the same hospital. However, over 53 injured persons were reportedly treated at RML hospital.

Even after people from MTFD gathered outside Chanakya Police Station, the detained male protesters were refused to let go while the women were asked to. However, the detained women protesters refused release unless everyone was let go. When the injured protestors from the hospital where brought in to the police station, the people gathered outside were asked to leave by the policemen, but they stood ground.

Image from inside the jail
Image from inside the jail: MTFD

As per the latest update from MTFD Legal Desk, Counter complaint has been lodged against the Delhi Police and Manipur Rifles for use of excessive force, assault, torture and terrorising peaceful tribal protestors, causing serious and grievous injuries and for assaulting and molesting our women.

The same mentioned that Manipur rifles first started throwing stones against the peaceful protesters from the terrace. Many women including four young mothers were indiscriminately thrashed, beaten, slapped, kicked and pulled by the hairs. Two women were even groped and molested. Many men were hand picked even when they were already leaving the scene peacefully. Thrashed, kicked and trampled upon even in the PCR van leaving many of them bleeding, fractured and serious injured.

Further updates are awaited.

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