Imphal, June 10: Curfew and shoot-at-sight orders kept Moreh on a leash a day after 11 people from two communities were killed there, but there was no respite for the Manipur government with rumours about the killings turning the state capital into a second trouble spot.
Meitei protesters blocked a road and forced shops in Imphal to down shutters even as the government rushed police and paramilitary teams to Kuki-inhabited localities in anticipation of a communal flare-up over the killings. Six of those killed in Moreh were Meitei construction workers and the rest were Kukis.
The killings are believed to be the handiwork of rival militant groups.
Moreh has been on the boil since May 25, when an explosion in a hotel at Namphalong — just across the Indo-Myanmar — left two dead. Border trade was suspended after that incident and has yet to resume.
Governor S.S. Sidhu today appealed to all communities not to be swayed by rumours emanating from Moreh about the “senseless killings”. He said the government had initiated all possible steps to restore normality in the border township.
India Reserve Battalion personnel and police commandos launched operations in Moreh and its vicinity to flush out the militants responsible for the killings, while Assam Rifles teams patrolled the empty streets. Residents of the township said they heard gunshots in the morning, but there was no official confirmation of any such incident.
State police chief Yumnam Joykumar Singh held a series of meetings with leaders of different communities in Moreh to chalk out strategies to prevent an ethnic conflict. The police chief reached the township on being informed about the killings.
Sources said members of some communities were closeted in hotels for fear of being attacked if they stayed at home. The bodies of the 11 people killed yesterday remained at Moreh police station.
In Imphal, minister Th. Devendra Singh — he is standing in for chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who is in New Delhi — promised the protesters a magisterial inquiry into the killings and ex gratia to the families of the victims. Five of the six slain Meiteis were residents of Khurai in Imphal East district.
Devendra Singh visited Khurai in the afternoon to pacify the protesters, who blocked the Imphal-Ukhrul road throughout the day and shut down shops at several places.