Amid fresh protests, Centre transfers Rakesh Balwal back to Manipur from Srinagar

CBI team reaches Imphal to investigate deaths of youths

Manipur violence A charred vehicle following protests against the killing of two Meitei youths by suspected Kuki Zo militants, in Imphal West district | PTI

Fresh violence rocked Manipur following the death of two students, leading to protests by students and youth in the state. Amidst ongoing protests, the Centre has transferred back senior IPS officer Rakesh Balwal back to Manipur cadre.

Fresh violence broke out in the state following the death of two youths - Phijam Hemajit and Hijam Linthoingambi, who reportedly went missing on July 6 this year. A CBI team, led by the special director of the agency has reached Imphal to investigate the deaths. Briefing the media on Tuesday, Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh he has informed Union Home Minister Amit Shah about the case and added the case is being taken seriously. Biren Singh said the State Government has been taking all steps to restore peace under the supervision of the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister. 

Following violence, a curfew was imposed in Imphal and according to reports, curfew relaxation has been cancelled in Imphal East and West districts from 4pm on Wednesday till further orders.

The Centre has rushed senior IPS officer Rakesh Balwal from Jammu and Kashmir to Manipur amid fresh violence in the northeastern state. Balwal, a 2012 batch IPS officer serving as Srinagar senior superintendent of police (SSP), has been transferred to his parent cadre Manipur where the situation has been tense for the past few months. He took charge as Srinagar SSP in late 2021.

"The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs for premature repatriation of Rakesh Balwal, IPS, from AGMUT cadre to Manipur cadre," an official order said.

Before taking charge as Srinagar SSP, Balwal was on deputation with the NIA for three-and-half years as superintendent of police and was a member of the team that investigated the 2019 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives.

More than 180 people have been killed and several hundred injured since ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on May 3, when a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe status.

A fresh bout of violence, this time led by students, broke out in the state capital on Tuesday after photos of the bodies of two youths who went missing in July went viral on social media.

Violent protests continued till the early hours of Thursday with a mob vandalising the deputy commissioner's office in Imphal West and torching two four-wheelers, officials said.

The chief minister said security forces have been advised to exercise maximum restraint against protesters. “Action would be initiated if security personnel use excessive action against the public, especially the students in controlling their agitation,” Singh said.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal valley, while tribals, including Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mostly in the hill districts.

However, Manipur police claimed forces were attacked with stones and they used minimum force to repel them. “There were several protests and rallies in connection with the viral photos of the dead bodies of two missing students. Miscreants in crowd used iron pieces and stones (marbles) against security forces. In retaliation security forces used minimum force to disperse the congregation and fired some tear gas shells in which some people got injured,” Manipur police tweeted.

(With PTI inputs.)


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