Manipur ethnic violence: At least 32 dead; 16,500 evacuated to safety; life limps back to normalcy amid heavy security presence
Imphal/IBNS: At least 32 people have been kiilled in Manipur ethnic violence, while life in the troubled state is limping back to normalcy amid heavy security presence.
Manipur DGP said at least 32 people lost their lives in the ethnic violence that ravaged the state in the last three days. Meanwhile, some media reports have quoted this figure at 54.
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh made an appeal to the people to restrain from any form of violence, and said that “strict instruction has been given to the police and paramilitary to take action against those who create disturbances in the law & order of the state.”
On Saturday, there was a noticeable resumption of business activities as shops and markets reopened, and regular traffic resumed on the roads.
Increased security measures, including the deployment of additional army troops, rapid action force, and central police forces, were prominently visible in major areas and on the roads.
So far, the Indian army and Assam Rifles have evacuated 16,500 people from violence-hit areas, the Defence PRO said.
"Prompt response by Security Forces led to rescuing of civilians of all communities from various minority pockets of areas affected by violence. As a result, Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, Moreh, and Kakching are now under firm control with no major violence reported since yesterday night," the PRO said.
“The issue [law and order situation] is being addressed proactively by the Security Forces who are leaving no stone unturned to thwart the nefarious designs, should it manifest,” the Defence PRO said in a statement,
While on ground zero Assam Rifles is enhancing its deployment posture, round-the-clock vigil & border surveillance, their efforts are being given fresh impetus by allocating Unmanned Aerial Vehicle & Army Helicopters for aerial surveillance in Manipur, the statement read.
Multiple rounds of Aerial Surveillance using Cheetah Helicopters have already been conducted by Army since morning in Manipur. Army & Assam Rifles working in synergy through the above efforts hope to quell the present unrest in Manipur at the earliest, the Defence PRO added.
A deployment of approximately 10,000 soldiers from the Army and the Assam Rifles has taken place in Manipur. The state has experienced clashes since Wednesday, primarily between the Meitei community residing in the Imphal Valley and the Kuki tribals who inhabit the hill districts.
According to sources, an additional 1,000 central paramilitary personnel with anti-riot vehicles arrived in Manipur on Friday.
During the evacuation of Meiteis in Churachandpur, four people were killed by security forces, while another person was killed in Imphal.
Indian Express reported that a senior official from the central security forces said four individuals have been confirmed dead. However, a senior police official from the district reported that the number of casualties stands at three.
Chonkholen Haokip, a CRPF constable who was on leave, was shot dead when he attempted to intervene and prevent a group of individuals from setting a village on fire, reports said.
Meanwhile, the IRS (Indian Revenue Service) Association said a tax assistant identified as Letminthang Haokip had been killed in Imphal. “No cause or ideology can justify the killing of an innocent public servant on duty,” they tweeted.
The outbreak of violence in Manipur can be traced back to the 'Tribal Solidarity March' initiated by the All Tribal Students' Union of Manipur (ATSUM). The march was organized as a form of protest against the demand to include the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category, which was prompted by a directive from the Manipur High Court on April 19. The march served as a catalyst for the subsequent escalation of violence in the region.
Approximately 53 percent of the population in Manipur comprises Meiteis, residing predominantly in the Imphal Valley, while the remaining 40 percent consists of tribal communities such as Kukis, residing primarily in the hill districts surrounding the Valley.
On Friday, India’s Christian organisations made a unified appeal for calm as violence swept through Manipur between the Kuki-Zomi and Meitei communities.
The United Christian Forum of North East India has expressed concern over the power struggle among various groups, which has resulted in conflicts, violence, arson, and loss of life. In response to the prevailing situation, the forum has called upon all churches to unite in a collective effort to pray for peace.
On Friday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a review meeting with Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh and top officials to assess the situation in the state. The Centre has also sent additional security forces and anti-riot vehicles to maintain peace in Manipur.