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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Five killed in fresh wave of violence in Manipur, BJP MLA points to security lapse

The ongoing conflict has left at least 165 people dead and over 60,000 displaced despite the heavy presence of central security forces, whose role was questioned by Rajkumar Imo Singh, the son-in-law of chief minister N. Biren Singh

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 06.08.23, 07:23 AM
Bishnupur district had been on the edge since Tuesday over the proposed mass burial of Kuki-Zo people in Torbung

Bishnupur district had been on the edge since Tuesday over the proposed mass burial of Kuki-Zo people in Torbung File picture

Five persons, including a father and son guarding their home, lost their lives in a fresh wave of targetted killings and in action by security forces in Manipur’s Bishnupur district on Saturday, prompting an MLA of the ruling BJP to question security lapses and request the Centre to take stringent measures as “otherwise Manipur is going to get out of hand”.

In the first incident, three Meiteis were killed in the Kwakta area of the Meitei-majority Bishnupur district around 3.25am in a raid allegedly carried out by armed Kuki miscreants from adjoining Churachandpur district, which is dominated by Kuki-Zo people, an official said. Four others were injured in the attack.

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Two Kukis died in alleged retaliatory firing by the security forces during an operation that followed in the peripheral areas after the attack. Six persons were injured on the Churachandpur side. Intermittent firing was on till evening.

“There were seven to eight attackers who reportedly came from Gothol (in Churachandpur), a village on the foothills near Kwakta. Three persons were killed in the Kwakta raid, including a father and son. There was heavy firing and shelling in the security operation that followed. It stopped around 4.30pm, for the time being. The situation is tense,” an official said.

The deceased in the Kwakta attack have been identified as the father-son duo of Yumnam Pishak, 70, and Yumnam Premkumar, 38, and their neighbour Yumnam Jiten, 52. The trio were shot from close range and their bodies bore deep injury marks, sources said.

Premkumar was a village defence force member and the trio had returned to guard their homes on Saturday from the relief camp where they have been putting up since the conflict between the Meiteis and the Kukis began on May 3. The flare-up had started at the Bishnupur-Churachandpur border and soon engulfed the entire state.

The trio killed on Saturday were from Kwakta Lamkhai Ward No. VIII, about 51km south of Imphal.

Reaction to the killings was swift. Meitei and Muslim people living in the area burnt down a few abandoned Kuki houses in the locality. Some abandoned Kuki houses in Imphal city were also set on fire in the evening. Meitei women blocked roads at several places in Bishnupur.

Sources said around 900 Meiteis lived in Kwakta, but in the affected locality there were 9-10 Meitei families living with Muslims.

Many Meiteis had left the area after violence erupted on May 3, and several Muslim families fled on Saturday as fighting escalated between the security forces and Kuki militants.

Bishnupur district had been on the edge since Tuesday over the proposed mass burial of Kuki-Zo people in Torbung. A group of women had stormed the deputy commissioner’s office on Wednesday opposing the proposed burial.

While security forces were focussing on averting any possible flare-up due to the proposed burial on Thursday, mobs looted huge quantities of arms and ammunition from the 2nd IRB Batallion headquarters and two police outposts in Bishnupur, in areas close to the border with Churachandpur.

Kwakta is also close to Phougakchao Ikhai where there was a scuffle between a women’s group and security forces on Thursday when the civilians tried to march to Torbung in Churcharandpur where the mass burial of 35 Kuki-Zo people killed in the unrest had been planned. The burial was shelved following the intervention of the Union home ministry and Manipur High Court.

The ongoing conflict has left at least 165 people dead and over 60,000 displaced despite the heavy presence of central security forces, whose role was questioned by Rajkumar Imo Singh, a BJP MLA and son-in-law of chief minister N. Biren Singh.

Imo said in a video tweeted on Saturday: “It is very sad — what is happening in our state. How these militants or these terrorists, because they (are) terrorising people, are coming from another district... into the valley area and killing people in their homes while they are sleeping.”

Imo questioned the role of the security forces deployed in the area and called for “strict action... against them and the particular company which is there I think will need to take action (against) them”.

He said a memorandum had been submitted to Union home minister Amit Shah mentioning that certain security forces were “still creating some kind of uneasiness between the people and the state”.

Calling for complete disarmament, Imo said: “We really need to take some proactive measures on the part of the central government as the command for the all-Manipur security is with the chief security adviser (appointed by the state government). As I have said earlier, it is not just an ethnic conflict anymore because there are people behind this trying to create more unrest. Who is supplying these arms to them, the ammunition to them?”

“How on earth can an ethnic conflict last for more than three months? It is much more than that now. All these questions need to be answered by the central government. The central government needs to take certain measures, otherwise Manipur is going to get out of hand. I request them to look into this and take stringent measures against whoever is responsible for creating this unrest,” Imo said.

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