Several people, including police personnel and forest staff, were injured in a clash that broke when villagers raised strong opposition to an eviction drive by the state government at “reserved forest areas” at Kangchup Chiru of Manipur’s Kangpokpi district on December 6.
The clash erupted as the villagers tried to foil the bid to evict two newly constructed houses within the “reserved forest” by confronting the police and officials of the forest department.
The police retaliated with tear gas shells and mock bombs.
As the villagers confronted the police with stones and slingshots, at least six police personnel and three forest guards sustained injuries, reports said. They have been rushed to hospitals in Imphal. Officials said that some of them were in critical conditions.
Some villagers were also reportedly injured in the retaliatory actions of the police. However, the number could not be ascertained till the time of filing this report.
Reports said that a combined team of Kangpokpi police and staff of the Kangpokpi forest division carried out the eviction drive at Kangchup Chiru “reserved forest area” where two houses were found constructed. The clash took place at around 9 am on December 6.
Before reaching the spot, a large number of villagers were found imposing blockade in a bid to foil the eviction drive. The police warned the protestors to open the road so that they could proceed.
With tension brewing, villagers started pelting stones towards the police and officials while some used catapults. The police resorted to firing tear gas shells and mock bombs in a bid to disperse the villagers.
After two hours of clash, the police took control of the situation and carried out the eviction drive, the reports also said.
Meanwhile, an official release of the Kangpokpi forest division said that the eviction drive was carried out after mandatory prior notices were served to the encroachers.
“Following due procedure of the law, eviction orders/notices were served to the encroachers with warning not to encroach and to remove all structures erected inside the reserved forests,” divisional forest officer (DFO), N Ganesh said in the statement.
While seeking cooperation of the people in the conservation and protection of precious forest resources of the state, Ganesh also appealed to the people to respect the law and refrain from carrying out any illegal activities inside reserved forests.
“The government will not tolerate new constructions and fresh clearings in the reserved forests. The eviction drive will continue in all notified forest areas of the division wherever encroachment is observed,” he added.