48-hour bandh in Imphal as local groups call for release of 5 men held for carrying firearms

A 48-hour bandh came into effect in the Imphal Valley on Tuesday, with local groups demanding the release of five men who had been arrested for carrying firearms and wearing camouflage uniforms.

Markets and commercial establishments remained closed and few vehicles plied the roads on Tuesday morning.

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“Congregation of crowds, road blockades and closure of different establishments were reported at various locations at Imphal West, Imphal East, Bishnupur, Thoubal, Kakching and Jiribam districts. District police and security forces fired tear gas shells to disperse the crowds and remove road blockades at various places,” the Manipur Police said in a statement on Tuesday.

Supplementary examinations of all subjects of class 10 board exams of the Board of Secondary Education, Manipur, which had been scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday, were cancelled in view of the bandh.

The five men, whose arrest on Saturday triggered the bandh, were found in possession of an INSAS rifle, an SLR, two .303 rifles, and multiple magazines and rounds of ammunition, The Indian Express has learnt.

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One of them, Moirangthem Anand Singh (45), has been identified as having initially been a trained cadre of the separatist group, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of Manipur, and then the Kangleipak Communist Party (Noyon) group, sources said, adding that he had been arrested seven times between 1997 and 2010. All the other arrested are men between the ages of 28 and 39.

The five were booked under multiple sections of the IPC, the Arms Act, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, as well as the Official Secrets Act for the misuse of official uniforms.

On Monday, the Meira Paibis blocked several important roads at Khurai and Kongba in Imphal East district, Kakwa in Imphal West district, Nambol in Bishnupur district and parts of Thoubal district, demanding the release of the five men.

— With PTI input