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regular-article-logo Monday, 22 April 2024

Lawyers’ protest in Imphal, outcry against RAF action on protesters on court premises

Tuesday’s protesters, mostly women, were demanding the 'unconditional release' of six accused persons arrested in connection with the February 13 case of looting arms from the 5th IRB Battalion in Imphal East

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 22.02.24, 05:49 AM
The scene at the Cheirap court complex on Wednesday

The scene at the Cheirap court complex on Wednesday Sourced by the Telegraph

The All Manipur Bar Association members and the High Court Bar Association on Wednesday held a protest in front of the Cheirap court complex in Imphal West against the “excessive use” of force by the Rapid Action Force (RAF) on a group of protesters inside the court complex late Tuesday afternoon.

The lawyers also abstained from work “except for urgent matters”.

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Tuesday’s protesters, mostly women, were demanding the “unconditional release” of six accused persons arrested in connection with the February 13 case of looting arms from the 5th IRB Battalion in Imphal East. They claimed the six accused were “innocent” and no arms “recovered” from them when they were arrested.

Security forces, including RAF, used tear gas shells and electric batons to control the protesters, reports from Imphal said. The court remanded the six in judicial custody till March 5.

Before Wednesday’s protest, the executive committees of both the lawyers associations held a meeting that unanimously adopted several resolutions on Tuesday’s incident, including the demand for an inquiry into the incident by a retired justice of the High Court of Manipur to fix responsibility, “failing which further course of action will be decided”.

The meeting, condemning the “excessive use” of force by the RAF inside the court complex, also resolved that their members abstained from the court “except for urgent matters” while appealing to all sections of society, including security forces, to “respect the sanctity of the court and not to indulge in such violence inside the court’s premises”.

All Manipur Bar Association general secretary Maisnam Johnny Meitei told The Telegraph that the protest was held against Tuesday’s incident inside the court
complex.

“Our meeting (before the protest) unanimously condemned the excessive use of force by the RAF against women protesters by using electric batons and mob bombs inside the court complex. We protested because the action of the security forces took place inside the court complex, affecting the sanctity of the court.

“Five women protesters and one of our joint secretaries were injured in the RAF action late Tuesday afternoon,” Meitei said.

He also said they will submit a memorandum to the chief minister and the Union home minister seeking an inquiry into the incident within seven days.

Several hundred lawyers took part in the protest staged between 11 am and 2.30 pm in front of the court complex, which houses four courts — CJM (Imphal West); District and Sessions Judge (Imphal East), District and Sessions Judge (Imphal West) and Fast-Track Court (NDPS).

Meitei said the Cheirap Court Complex is the oldest in the state, “established in the 17th century”, and an incident like that happening there is “unfortunate”.

The February 13 attack on the 5th IRB camp around 9pm had seen a mob make way with a large quantity of arms, approximately 300, and ammunition, triggering a search and combing operations soon after in the strife-hit state. The ongoing conflict had left at least 210 dead and over 67,000 displaced.

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