Manipur violence

Imphal, May 06: According to officials, the death toll in the recent violence in Manipur has increased to 54, although unofficial sources claim that the number may be even higher.

The streets of Imphal Valley slowly returned to normalcy on Saturday, with shops and markets reopening and cars moving on the roads.

Security forces, including the army troops, rapid action forces, and central police forces, were highly visible in major areas and roads. While most shops and markets opened in the morning, security forces were deployed in large numbers across the region.

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 Regional Institute of Medical Sciences at Lamphel in Imphal West district reported 23 dead, according to officials.

On Friday night, police reported two separate encounters in the Churachandpur district in which five hill-based militants were killed, and two India Reserve Battalion jawans were injured.

In one encounter, security forces gunned down four militants at Saiton in the Churachandpur district, while another militant was killed, and two IRB jawans were injured in a gunfight at Torbung.

Also Read: Violence Erupts in Manipur: 4 Killed in Churachandpur, Tax Assistant Killed in Imphal

The Indian Army brought Churachandpur, Moreh, Kakching, and Kangpokpi districts under its “firm control” by rescuing and shifting 13,000 people to safe shelters, some in army camps.

While Imphal East and West districts witnessed sporadic incidents of arson and attempt to establish blockades in the past 12 hours, a “firm and synergized response” controlled the situation, according to a Defence spokesperson.

Multiple sources stated that the fighting between communities left several scores of people dead and nearly a hundred injured.

However, the police have not confirmed these reports. Many people with bullet injuries are also being treated at RIMS and Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences.

Approximately 10,000 soldiers from the Army and the Assam Rifles have been deployed in the state to restore peace after clashes broke out between the Meitei community, which mainly lives in Imphal Valley, and Naga and Kuki tribals, who are inhabitants of the hill districts.

The Centre dispatched additional security forces and anti-riot vehicles to maintain peace, and around 1,000 more central paramilitary personnel with anti-riot vehicles reached Manipur on Friday.

The violence began during the ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ organised by the All Tribal Student Union Manipur on Wednesday to protest the demand of Meiteis for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

An armed mob allegedly attacked people of the Meitei community during the march in Torbung, leading to retaliatory attacks in the valley districts and escalating violence throughout the state.

Meiteis account for about 53% of the population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley, while tribals, including Nagas and Kukis, account for another 40% of the population and live mostly in the hill districts surrounding the Valley.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed the situation in Manipur with Chief Minister N Biren Singh and top officials on Friday. In addition, trains to Manipur have been cancelled with immediate effect due to the prevailing situation in the state, a Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) spokesperson said.