Manipur violence: Dozens killed, thousands displaced as ethnic clashes continue

Hundreds of houses, churches, temples, and vehicles were either vandalised or set ablaze across Manipur. [Photo: Twitter/MC Mary Kom]
Hundreds of houses, churches, temples, and vehicles were either vandalised or set ablaze across Manipur. [Photo: Twitter/MC Mary Kom]

Imphal: In the ethnic clashes in Manipur, dozens of people have been killed and thousands displaced with mobs attacking homes, vehicles, churches, and temples.

The violence began last week after indigenous communities held a rally to protest against demands by the main ethnic group in the state for tribal status.

Thousands of armed forces personnel have been deployed in the state to maintain law and order and a curfew is in place in several districts and internet access has been suspended.

Earlier on Saturday, the death count was at 54, officials said even as unofficial sources put the figure at several scores.

Armed presence which has been bolstered by flying in more army troops and rapid action force and central police forces was clearly visible at all major areas and roads.

Of the 54 dead, 16 bodies were kept in the morgue of the Churachandpur district hospital while 15 bodies were in Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal East district, the report said quoting officials.

The Regional Institute of Medical Sciences at Lamphel in Imphal West district reported 23 dead, the official said.

The report quoting police said five hill-based militants were killed and two India Reserve Battalion jawans were injured in two separate encounters in Churachandpur district on Friday night.

An encounter took place at Saiton in Churachandpur district between the security forces and the militants in which four militants were killed, the police said.

Militants opened fire at armed forces at Torbung. In the exchange of fire one militant was killed and two IRB jawans were injured, the police said.

A Defence spokesperson said a total of 13,000 people were rescued and shifted to safe shelters, some in army camps as the army brought Churachandpur, Moreh, Kakching and Kangpokpi districts under its “firm control”.

“In the past 12 hours, Imphal East and West districts witnessed sporadic incidents of arson and attempts by inimical elements to establish blockades. However, the situation was controlled by a firm and synergised response,” the Defence official said on Friday night.

Earlier on Friday, the Central Government of India imposed Article 355 in the state to control the situation. Article 355 is a part of emergency provisions contained in the Constitution that empowers the GoI to take all necessary steps to protect a state against internal disturbances and external aggression.

Director General of Manipur Police, P. Doungel while talking to the media said that after reviewing the overall situation, Article 355 has been imposed in the entire state allowing the GoI to take all necessary steps to bring the situation under control and protect the lives and properties of the people.

The Home Minister of India since Thursday held two video-conference meetings with Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, State Chief Secretary, DGP, Home Secretary and other top officials.

Shah also spoke to Chief Ministers of several northeastern states and discussed the Manipur situation and about the wellbeing of the students and people living in Manipur.

Various state governments of the northeastern states are in touch with the Manipur authorities on the safety and security of the students and people belonging to different northeastern states living in Manipur.

Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram governments have set up 24 X 7 help lines for the benefit of the students and people living in Manipur.

The situation turned seriously volatile after thousands turned up for the ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ on Wednesday to oppose the demand for inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category.

In view of the prevailing situation, the Manipur government on Thursday authorised all District Magistrates, Sub-Divisional Magistrates and all Executive Magistrates to issue “Shoot at sight orders” in extreme cases.

A defence spokesman said that Army and Assam Rifles personnel conducted flag marches and aerial reconnaissance in areas of Khuga, Tampa, and Khomaujanbba areas of Churachandpur district, Mantripukhri, Lamphel, and Koeirangi area of Imphal West District, and Sugnu in Kakching districts.

In an appeal to the people, the Chief Minister urged them to maintain peace and calm and cooperate with the state government.

“Wednesday’s incidents took place due to a misunderstanding between the communities. The government will settle the genuine demands and grievances after talking with all the communities and leaders,” Singh said in a video message.

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