Police, protesters clash over shifting of district hospital from Sagolmang
STAFF REPORTER IMPHAL, 14th May:
At least four women who took part in protest against shifting of Imphal East district hospital from Sagolmang lost consciousness as police fired tear gas shells and smoke bombs to disperse the protesters who were on their way to storm the chief minister’s bungalow Monday.
All the four women were hospitalised but discharged later.
Prior to the police action, a large number of people turned out at Sagolmang bazar in morning to attend a public meeting. However, police prevented the gathering as the district magistrate had imposed restriction under CrPC section 144 preventing assembly of five or more people. After an intense tussle between police and people who gathered at the Bazar area, police picked up two organisers of the public meet at about 12.40pm and left the place.
After news spread that two protesters have been arrested by police, a large number of people already gathered at Tiger camp to launch protest against shifting of the hospital site blocked the police team. Later, the two protesters were released at about 1.20pm but the police team came back to Sagolmang and dispersed women from staging protest at the area. As police were speaking with women protesters, a huge rally against shifting of district hospital approached Sagolmang bazar from Saikul road but police managed to stop the rally as per restriction imposed under CrPC 144.
Later, large number of women coming from Keibi side along with those coming from Saikul side met near a community hall located near Sagolmang bazar and conducted a public meeting. After the meeting ended at about 2pm, the protesters boarded buses, Tata Magics and diesel autos and headed towards Sawombung with the intention of meeting the chief minister.
As protesters coming in the vehicles approached a fuel station at Sawombung, large reinforcement of police personnel stationed there blocked them. The action of some protesters blocking private vehicles plying on the road prompted police to fire some rounds of tear gas shells and managed to disperse the protesters.
At about 4pm, protesters were angered by attempt made by police to nab a leader and an intense conflict ensued between the two sides. To defuse the situation, police fired several rounds of tear gas shells and smoke bombs during which four women fainted. All of them were rushed to hospital on a private vehicle with the insistence of police.
Condemning the police action, protesters remained squatted on the middle of the road till late evening.
Mention may be made that a public meeting convened on May 11 at Sangeet Kala Sangam near Khurai Lamlong bazar resolved that Imphal East district hospital should not be shifted from Sagolmang and the hospital should not be constructed at any other site other than Sagolmang Khewa where the foundation stone had already been laid in 2011.
The public meet also resolved to launch intense forms of agitations from May 13 if the government fails to announce that Imphal East district hospital will be constructed at Sagolmang.