Manipur: Why arrest of Rights activist Mark Thangmang Haokip sparked unrest

Manipur: Why arrest of Rights activist Mark Thangmang Haokip sparked unrest

Manipur Manipur

Dr Mark Thangmang Haokip, the president of the Manipur chapter of the International Human Rights Association (IHRA), was arrested in New Delhi on Tuesday in connection with an FIR filed against him at Churachandpur police station under the Indian Penal Code. Dr. Mark Haokip was arrested as a result of his Facebook post.

In connection with three FIRs filed against him last year, Haokip, the 37- year-old activist was arrested by a team of Manipur police from his temporary residence in Delhi's Kishangarh on Tuesday night.

Uproar in Churachandpur after Dr Mark Thangmang Haokip’s arrest:

On Wednesday, protests  erupted in Manipur's Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts in response to the arrest of the human rights activist.

A large number of people in Churachandpur district took to the streets at the district headquarters and staged a protest by blocking roads, including Tidim road (Imphal-Churachandpur road), at various locations.

Many Imphal-bound vehicles, including passenger service and school service vehicles, were stranded due to the sudden road blockade. While the police attempted to maintain control, some protesters smashed the windshields of stranded vehicles.

As the situation got out of hand, more police officers were dispatched to the scene. As protesters pelted stones at police officers, they resorted to firing tear gas shells and mock bombs.

While the police struggled, another group of protesters marched down Tidim Road and blocked traffic at the Peace Ground area. 

Protesters called for the human rights activist's immediate and unconditional release.

The situation remained tense as protesters took to the streets in new locations, despite police efforts to quell the uprising.

Many vehicles, including those transporting students, were left stranded in different locations.

What did the police say?

According to Shivakanta Singh, Superintendent of Police for the Imphal West district, Haokip was arrested for promoting communal disharmony, among other charges under the Indian Penal Code. According to the SP, Haokip is still in Delhi and will be returned to Imphal very soon.

Police also described the violent clash that occurred between protestors and police.

According to the police, the agitators became violent and pelted stones after being denied permission to hold the protest by the district authority. "To disperse the mob, security personnel were forced to use tear gas," police said.

IHRA member Mang Vaiphei’s reaction: 

According to Mang Vaiphei, an IHRA member, the agitators were holding a peaceful protest when they were stopped by police. Vaiphei went on to say that despite their repeated requests, the district authority had denied permission for the protest.

International Human Rights Association’s (IHRA) statement:

In a statement, the IHRA claimed that the Manipur government had gravely abused Section 153(a) of the IPC. "At most, the arrest reflects the Government of Manipur's apparent bias against Kukis, which is implicit in the Manipur Government's majoritarian shift toward a Meitei-centric government," the IHRA claimed.

The case against Mark Haokip is "unambiguously" a fitting response to the Kukis being referred to as "foreigners" and "refugees" by a valley-based group, according to the statement. The arrest is also an infringement on Haokip's right to freedom of expression, according to the statement.

When Mark Haokip was arrested for his social media comment based on historical documents, the groups that labelled Kukis as foreigners and refugees were not arrested.

While it is unclear which social media post Haokip was arrested for, the IHRA member stated that he was arrested for commenting on Manipur's merger agreement. According to the IHRA, Haokip pointed out that the former kingdom of Manipur was only 700 square miles in size when it merged with the Indian Union.


Edited By: Admin
Published On: May 26, 2022