The overall situation in the trouble-hit Churachandpur district of Manipur appeared normal on Sunday after two days of unrest.
According to those familiar with the situation, the tension was “triggered” by the BJP-led state government’s “failure” to address “grievances and apprehensions” of the local populace over the “survey” of forest/wetlands and “eviction” of villages set up in these areas.
A senior police official told The Telegraph that if the “normalcy” on the streets of Churachandpur town and adjoining areas that was witnessed through Sunday “continues without any fresh disturbance, night curfew may be lifted by tomorrow (Monday) evening after reviewing the situation”.
However, another official told this newspaper that the night curfew would “continue” but would "not" be strictly enforced if the ongoing peace holds firm.
The night curfew (5pm to 5am) was imposed on Saturday because of the “worsening” situation in the district since Friday afternoon.
Sources said a meeting at the SP’s office and chaired by Manipur DGP P. Doungel, on Saturday involving top officials and leaders of civil society organisations of the district “helped” in resolving the stand-off between the protesters and the security personnel since Friday afternoon.
The organisations involved in the talks included the Hmar Inpui (HI), Hmar Students' Association (HAS), Kuki Khanglai Lompi (KKL), Kuki Student Organisation (KSO), Young Paite Association, GHQ (YPA) and the Zomi Student Federation (ZSF).
It was agreed in the meeting that additional security teams, including commando teams, rushed from outside the district to maintain order, would be withdrawn from Saturday as the “situation was improving”.
The meeting also decided that the CSO leaders would ensure “there will be no road blockades and mob violence" and they would assist the district police in restoring normalcy in the district.
The truce reached on Saturday was holding firm till Sunday evening, a police official said, adding, “We are in a wait-and-watch mode for complete normalcy and lifting of night curfew, but satisfied with the overall law and order situation since Saturday afternoon.” Vehicular traffic resumed and shops opened on Sunday but comparatively less as most of the local people attend Church service on Sunday.
Chief minister N. Biren Singh also reached out to the protesters on Saturday by clarifying that there was “no” decision to create new forests but only to “protect” existing forest areas.
Protesters and security personnel locked horns soon after the eight-hour Churachandpur district bandh, called by the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), ended at 4pm on Friday.
The bandh was called in protest against the government survey of forest areas and eviction of villages in those areas.
Besides a mob setting on fire a range forest office in the Tuibong area of Churachandpur town on Friday night, incidents of stone-pelting at security personnel were also reported through Friday night.
Security personnel used tear gas to disperse the mob that was seeking the release of those detained by the police after the stone-pelting incident in the afternoon. All the detained persons have been released, sources said.
The administration also imposed Section 144 of CrPC and suspended mobile internet services in two districts — Churachandpur and Pherzawl — for five days from Thursday night after a mob vandalised an open gym and a venue of a public meeting to be addressed by Singh on Friday afternoon.