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Thousands of women, primarily Meira Paibis (women torch bearers), took to the streets across the five districts of Imphal valley in Manipur on Thursday afternoon in protest against frequent gun attacks by armed men at villages near the hills close to the valleys.

Organised by the civil body People’s Alliance for Peace and Progress Manipur, women at Singjamei, Kakwa, and Heingang in Imphal West district raised slogans to protect ”the territorial and administrative integrity” of Manipur, denouncing the gun attacks by the armed men targeting villagers.

Protesters also called for the cancellation of the Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement signed between the Kuki militants and the central government.

Gaitri S, a university student who attended the protest at Kongba in Imphal East district, said, ”We want the central government and its security agencies to look into the endless supply of ammunition to the militants, which has enabled them to continuously attack villages for the last nine months.” Similar human chain protests were also held at Khurai Lamlong and Kongba in Imphal East district, Lilong in Thoubal district, and Moirang Lamkhai in Bishnupur district. The protest comes as Imphal valley has been recently witnessing renewed attacks by suspected militants in Pukhao Shantipur in Imphal East district, Sugnu in Kakching district, and Kadangband in Imphal West district.

Renu Laishram, a protester advocating for the deportation of illegal immigrants who have stayed since 1961, said, ”How can we remain at peace when the administrative unity and territorial integrity of the state are being threatened every single day? The state was built over the course of 2000 years by the indigenous people and its rulers. How can we tolerate if some illegal immigrants who came into the state not more than 50/40 years want to break it?” On Tuesday, a 25-year-old village volunteer was killed and two others were injured in a gunfight between two warring communities at Pukhao Shantipur in Imphal East district. He was taken to a private hospital in Imphal where he succumbed to his injuries.

An army officer also suffered gunshot injuries in a separate incident in the district when he, along with other security personnel, was going to control a situation.

On Wednesday, armed men attacked Sugnu village in Kakching district, triggering a gunfight with village volunteers stationed in the area.

Last May, Sugnu witnessed severe violence, resulting in the burning of numerous houses and the loss of more than five lives, which compelled hundreds of villagers to seek refuge in relief camps.