An India Reserve Battalion policeman and a civilian were killed in an ambush in Kangpokpi district of strife-hit Manipur on Monday, prompting a frontal organisation of the Kuki-Zo community to blame "Meitei insurgents".
The Committee on Tribal Unity declared an emergency shutdown in the hill district, dominated by the Kuki-Zo community to which both victims belonged, to "convey" to the Centre that the community was "no longer safe under a partisan (state) government".
The killings have raised the death toll in the violence between Meiteis and the Kuki-Zo, continuing since May 3, to at least 183. Over 67,000 people have been displaced.
A police officer told The Telegraph that a 38-year-old IRBn policeman, Henminlen Vaiphei, was killed in the ambush. He was travelling in a Gypsy with a civilian when it was attacked by gunmen around 9.30am between the villages of Leilon Vaiphei and Kharam Vaiphei.
The civilian has been identified as Thangminlun Hangshing. Both victims were residents of Kangpokpi district. The site of the incident borders Meitei-majority Imphal West district.
"The IRBn jawan was posted with the 6th IRBn in Imphal but, following the unrest, he shifted to Kangpokpi and reported to the district superintendent of police," the officer said.
"The district police utilised his services for various tasks. He was currently part of a road-opening party. The killings took place in a deserted spot."
The IRBn, a special armed force raised by the Manipur police, helps the state force maintain law and order and assists in disaster management and election duty, among others.
Till now, about six state and central security force personnel have been killed in the unrest.
The Committee on Tribal Unity, which had since Wednesday midnight imposed an indefinite economic blockade of NH2 and NH37 over the "selective" dispensing of justice by the state government, has declared an emergency shutdown in Kangpokpi. It has reiterated its demand for a separate administration for the Kuki-Zo people.
A statement from the organisation condemned the "unprovoked" killings of the two “innocent persons” by “Meitei insurgents” and called for an “early materialisation” of its “demand for separation from Manipur”.
The statement said: “If repeated appeals of the Kuki-Zo community had been heard by the Union home ministry, series of unfortunate incident(s) could have been avoided. The Union home ministry must take into account the continuous attacks and that political separation (from Manipur) is the only option left now.”