Video Input: Borun Thokchom
Video Producer/Editor: Shohini Bose
The unrest in Manipur continued as protesters gathered at a police station demanding the immediate release of five arrested Meitei youths.
Latest stand-off: A massive group of demonstrators led by the 'Meira Paibis' gathered near the Singjamei Police Station in the state's Imphal West district at around 1:30 pm on Thursday, 21 September.
"Arrest us if you are going to arrest all those village defense volunteers!" they chanted.
Police action: In response, the Manipur Police and Rapid Action Force formed a barricade about 500 metres from the police station.
Soon, clashes erupted between protesters and the security forces who used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
In a nutshell: Five Meitei youths were arrested by the Manipur Police on 16 September as they were allegedly found to be in possession of "sophisticated illegal weapons" and were impersonating police personnel, according to a report by Deccan Herald.
Mass protests have swept the valley since, with a significant number of Meira Paibi women demonstrating at local police stations and demanding the release of the arrested individuals.
Who are the Meira Paibis? In Manipur, the first name that comes to mind when one talks of women groups, is the celebrated ‘Meira Paibi’.
They were first formed in 1977 in the Kakching district of Manipur in the context of the widespread militancy and counter-insurgent environment of the time. Taking its inspiration from the Nupi Lan (Women’s War) of 1904 and 1939, Meira Paibis' mobilisations have often been explicitly political in nature.
The Meira Paibis shot to fame on 15 July 2004 when 12 ‘imas’ (Meitei mothers) disrobed in front of the Assam Rifles HQ in Imphal to protest against the rape and killing of a Meitei woman. The women protesters who went about protesting with banners that read “Indian Army rape us” and “Indian Army take our flesh” were successful in removing the army camp from that location.
(With inputs from Borun Thokchom.)