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Manipur Protesters Converge on Phougakchao Ikhai, Demanding Army Barricade Removal

In a determined effort to return to their abandoned homes in Torbung, a multitude of demonstrators converged at Phougakchao Ikhai, located in Manipur’s Bishnupur district, on Wednesday. According to officials, they attempted to breach army barricades.

Tensions ran high in the area, and security forces, including personnel from RAF, the Assam Rifles, and Manipur Police, resorted to firing tear gas shells to regain control of the situation.

The demonstrators, however, remained steadfast at the site, insisting on being granted access to Torbung in the district, where they had been displaced due to ethnic conflicts since May, as reported by officials.

As a preventive measure, a full curfew was imposed in all five valley districts of Manipur starting Tuesday evening.

The decision to cancel curfew relaxation hours in Bishnupur, Kakching, Thoubal, Imphal West, and Imphal East was made following the call by the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) and its women’s wing for residents of all valley districts to dismantle the barricades.

Previously, curfew relaxation in all five valley districts was in effect from 5 am to 6 pm daily.

During a hastily arranged press conference, government spokesperson and Information and Public Relations Minister Sapam Ranjan appealed to COCOMI on Tuesday, saying, “The government appeals to COCOMI to withdraw the proposed plan to storm the army barricade at Phougakchao Ikhai near Torbung on September 6.”

The officials stated that individuals engaged in essential services such as healthcare, electricity, PHED, petrol stations, educational institutions, municipalities, media, court operations, and flight passengers would be exempt from the curfew.

COCOMI media coordinator Somendro Thokchom revealed that the committee had previously urged the government and relevant authorities to remove the barricades by August 30.

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