NEW DELHI: Two people were killed and at least 15 injured after violent confrontation between the protesters and the Manipur police in Ukhrul district, nearly 85 kilometres from state capital Imphal.

The trouble began when the police intervened in the rally citing Section 144 CrPc which has been in place in the district since the last two months. Section 144 prohibits the assembly of more than five people.

Defying the police warning, the protesters continued and went a step ahead and burnt two police vehicles along with hurling stones and other objects to police personnel, the police claimed.

In response, the police resorted to firing which resulted in the death of two persons with several others seriously injured.

The police further claims that they had initially used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators but resorted to firing after they heard gunshots.

Eyewitnesses said that the angry protesters fought with the police and India Reserve Battalion (IRB) personnel and allegedly snatched two AK-rifles.
Further confirming that the protesters set the police vehicle ablaze, the eyewitnesses told the media that the security forces fired blank shots in the air and then tear gas shells and rubber bullets in order to control the situation.As the road was rough and the security personnel were firing from their vehicles, they may have hit some protesters; stated the onlookers.

On the other hand, the United Naga Council, the Naga political organisation who organised the protest has claimed that the Manipur police commandos and jawans of the India Reserve Battalion fired on the protesters indiscriminately when all of the protesters were unarmed and not violent.

While large numbers of security personnel are posted to control the situation, the government has even sought the help of Assam Rifles.

The United Naga Council, the apex body of the Nagas in Manipur and other groups had appealed to the people to join the protest. The demonstration was demanding the lifting of an indefinite curfew which was clamped in Ukhrul district two months back.

The rally was organised to urge the Centre to expedite an “acceptable and honourable settlement” of the “Indo-Naga political issue”.

Further, the protests were also against deployment of security forces in the Naga areas, particularly in Ukhrul district by the state government “in utter disrespect of the Indo-Naga ceasefire”, the state government’s “disrespect for the tripartite talks” between the Centre, state government, and the United Naga Council on an alternative (administrative) arrangement “which has progressed to a logical stage” and the state government’s policies that encroached upon the ancestral land of the Nagas and other indigenous communities, the members of the Council informed.

Post the protest that turned violent, the United Naga Council in a press release condemned the killings and said it will intensify its agitation across Manipur in the next few days.