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Five Village Defence Volunteers released amidst public elation

by Aribam Bishwajit
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Five Village Defence Volunteers released amidst public elation

In a significant development today, the five Village Defence Volunteers at the center of a public-government conflict were released, leading to a massive outpouring of relief and joy by hundreds of Meira Paibi women in front of the Cheirap Court in Imphal. Their chants, including “No compromise on Territorial Integrity” and “Long Live Manipur,” echoed loud and clear, underscoring their vehement stance against the detention of village volunteers.
The decision to release came after a video conference hearing, necessitated due to the sensitive law and order situation in Imphal. Notably, the Investigating Officer (I.O.) of the case failed to present a compelling case against the accused concerning charges of terrorism and activities prejudicial to the State under section 16 UA(P) Act. As a result, the individuals were granted bail upon furnishing a PR bond of Rs 50,000 and additional stipulations. They are required to cooperate with the investigation, make regular appearances before the authorities, avoid influencing prosecution witnesses, and refrain from leaving the state without court permission. Moreover, they have been directed to report to the I.O. every 15 days.
The release follows around a week of heightened tensions. Stemming from the broader conflict between the Kuki and Meitei communities, the arrest of the five volunteers on September 16 by Manipur Police had been a flashpoint. They were detained for possessing sophisticated weaponry and donning camouflage uniforms. The public, however, perceived them as protectors against threats they believed the state police couldn’t handle. Their arrest spurred large-scale protests, with an impassioned crowd even attempting to surround the Porompat Police Station. In response, a 48-hour shutdown was initiated by the Meira Paibis and local clubs, amplifying their demand for the volunteers’ release.
Earlier today, as the judgement loomed, thousands of anxious women gathered around Cheirap Court, with state security and Rapid Action Forces on standby, ready to manage any potential unrest. The volunteers’ release not only calms the immediate situation but also brings to focus the broader challenges and concerns faced by the communities in Manipur.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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