Life in the Manipur capital was hit badly on Monday as street protests continued against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, a day after clashes between women vendors and police left eight persons injured. Six women vendors and two policewomen were injured in clashes after the police cracked down on hundreds of women traders who besieged Imphal’s Ima Keithel or Mother’s Market on Sunday, firing tear gas.
Even as the injured were rushed to a hospital, the protesters were back on the spot by the evening. Normal life has been crippled in Imphal since Sunday following a strike called by several organisations demanding the withdrawal of the Citizenship Bill. The vendors of the four women’s markets in Imphal are on strike till Tuesday.
Hundreds of women vendors have been sleeping in the main market refusing to go home. They have vowed to continue the protest against the Bill which promises Indian citizenship to six minority groups from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.
Critics say if this takes place, the northeast will be swamped by “outsiders”. On Monday, people obstructed traffic on the roads by burning tyres and logs. Even media persons and hospital employees were not spared. Trucks carrying milk and other essentials were not allowed to proceed.
Attendance in government offices, banks, and educational institutes was dismal. All shops and commercial institutes remained closed. Chief Minister N. Biren Singh left for Delhi on Sunday evening to discuss the situation with Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Meanwhile, a front-page advertisement published by the government in Imphal newspapers claimed that the Muslim population in Manipur rose from 23,864 in 1931 to 239,836 in 2011. “The decadal growth rate is 25.61 per cent for the Muslims.” The advertisement was silent on the population growth of other communities.