Six women sustained injuries when the police fired tear gas shells and smoke bombs at a marketplace here to disperse protesters, who had enforced a road blockade in the city demanding immediate withdrawal of the citizenship bill.
The women, all vendors of Khwairamband market, had put up posters and banners and set up tents, blocking roads, to press for their demand, despite imposition of section 144 of CrPc in the area in the wake of agitations against the contentious bill.
Shantidevi, the president of a women's association at Khwairamband market, said police used force to disperse the agitators, who had been protesting peacefully.
On Sunday, they tried to destroy the tents and pull down the banners that sought the unconditional revocation of the bill, she said.
The women, however, refused to cow down, following which a clash broke out between the two sides.
"The security officers fired tear gas shells and smoke bombs, which left six women injured. The situation turned uglier when they tried to take one of the injured women into custody and the agitators had to thwart the attempt," Shantidevi explained.
The injured women were then taken to Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIIMS), she added.
Criticising the use of "excessive force", Y Dillipkumar, the convenor of Manipur Peoples Against Citizenship Amendment Bill (MANPAC), said the women were "protesting in a democratic manner".
"The assault on the women vendors indicates that the state government is acting under the command of the Union government," he said.
MANPAC is an umbrella body of civil societies and organisations that had been protesting against the passage of the legislation.
Dillipkumar asserted that protests against the bill will intensify in the days to come.
"The members of MANPAC, along with common people, will hit the streets seeking withdrawal of the bill and implementation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in the state to weed out illegal immigrants," he added.
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had earlier said that the BJP-led government in the state would not support the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill unless there was a provision to protect the people of the northeast.
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up across Imphal Monday in the wake of agitation.
A large number of security personnel belonging to state and paramilitary forces have been deployed in Imphal to avoid any untoward situation.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, passed by Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to grant nationality to non-Muslims who fled religious persecution from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and entered India before December 31, 2014.
Protests against the bill have rocked the entire northeast over the past six weeks, with several organisations and political parties claiming that the bill threatens the identity, language and culture of indigenous people.