The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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500 cross back into Moreh
- Refugees housed in community hall

Imphal, June 11: More than 500 people who fled their homes into the safety of Myanmar just across the border after violence erupted in Moreh last Saturday were handed over to the town authorities today.

Eleven people were killed in a series of attacks by militants on Saturday, following which an indefinite curfew was imposed in the area. Protesters also torched a house and damaged several others.

Reports said 524 people, including women and children belonging to Meitei, Kuki and Muslim communities, crossed over to Myanmar immediately after the killings. Some Tamils were also among the people who took refuge in the neighbouring country.

A joint action committee of Khurai, in Imphal East, has called a 24-hour statewide bandh from 6 pm today in protest against the killings. Five of the six Meiteis killed in Moreh on Saturday hailed from Khurai.

An official source said residents of the troubled town fled their homes and grouped together in safer places, including hotels. Myanmarese authorities provided shelter and food to the displaced people at a school near Namphalong.

Myanmar informed the authorities in Moreh of the refugees last night and told them to receive the displaced people this morning. Moreh subdivisional police officer Md J. Husne and assistant deputy collector Th. Chote received the refugees at border gate 1.

The refugees have been put up in a community hall as the situation in the curfew-bound border town is still tense.

“Some cases of vandalism and looting of deserted homes have been reported,” an official source said.

This morning, India Reserve Battalion personnel chased away a group of vandals who were looting homes in the Meitei-dominated ward 9. However, nobody was arrested.

In another incident today, residents damaged a vehicle that was trying to leave Moreh for Imphal. The vehicle was ferrying traders stranded in the area ever since curfew was enforced. Nobody was injured in the incident. A resident told this correspondent that Meiteis living in Moreh did not want traders to leave the town with security escorts. He said the residents wanted the security personnel to be stationed in the town to keep violence under control.

Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who cut short his New Delhi trip and rushed back last evening, sent a ministerial team, led by agriculture minister Ph. Parijat Singh and information minister T.N. Haokip, also a Kuki leader, to Moreh to defuse tension. The team will meet leaders of different communities in Moreh and appeal to them to maintain peace.

Director-general of police Y. Joykumar Singh is camping in the area to supervise security measures.

Ibobi Singh reassured residents of Khurai today that a magisterial inquiry would be ordered into the killings. Yesterday, protesters blocked roads and closed down shops in Khurai.

Post-mortem on the five bodies that arrived here last night was conducted today. The bodies of the other victims were autopsied in Moreh itself.

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