No improvement in the Manipur situation; the Army flag march continues
The state of law-and-order in the current Manipur situation continues to deteriorate with no let-up in the situation, even as State and Central governments have intensified security deployment in the hill state to bring the situation to normal. The situation shows no signs of improvement, with numerous casualties reported in terms of both deaths and injuries.
No improvement in the Manipur situation May 2023
Unofficial sources said that violence continued in different parts of the state where the mob of opposing communities were burning each other’s houses. There are also reports that armed militants loot police stations across the violence-hit districts of Churachandpur, Bishnupur, Tengnoupal, Moreh and Imphal.
According to sources, there have been reports of armed militants engaging in firefights with security forces at various locations in Manipur. These include the Kangvai area in the Churachandpur district, the western hill range of Phougakchao in the adjoining Bishnupur district, and the Dolaithabi and Pukhao areas in the Imphal East district. The police have not yet confirmed the total number of casualties. Still, reports from multiple sources suggest that several people have been killed in Imphal and along the Bishnupur-Churachandpur route. Meanwhile, Vungzagin Valte, a former minister and BJP MLA from Thanlon was reportedly brutally assaulted by a mob on Thursday. He is said to be in critical condition and is currently undergoing treatment in Delhi.
According to sources, Union Home Minister Amit Shah cancelled his scheduled trip to Karnataka and instead held a review of the security situation with Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Thursday. It has been reported that Shah is considering a visit to the violence-affected state, with the possibility of arriving in Imphal as early as tomorrow. As the situation continues to escalate, there are unconfirmed reports that the Union Home Ministry may soon implement President’s Rule in Manipur.
In extreme cases, the Central government has already invoked Article 355 and issued shoot-at-sight orders on Thursday to contain the violence that broke in different parts of the state. The Manipur government has appointed retired IPS officer and former CRPF chief Kuldeep Singh as its security advisor.
The Central government had already sent 12 companies of additional forces, including six companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) in Manipur. The Army had been conducting flag marches for the third consecutive day in Manipur on Friday.
With the worsening law and order situation, the state government has appointed Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) Ashutosh Sinha as the overall operational commander of the force to control the situation and bring normalcy to the state. According to the government order issued on Thursday, Ashutosh Sinha will work under the guidance and supervision of Kuldeep Singh, Advisor Security, Manipur.
A mob attacked the police station at Kakching and looted the arms. The police, however, recovered half of the looted arms and hope the recover the remaining arms soon, a senior official said on Friday.
Fifty-five columns of Army and Assam Rifles were deployed, and more troops were brought in from Nagaland by road. At the same time, defence officials said that IAF flew in reinforcements from Tezpur and Guwahati in Assam. There are also reports that the violence had left several people dead in different districts. However, the government officials have remained tight-lipped and refused to divulge on the matter.
The violence erupted on Wednesday when the tribal group organized a solidarity march in most of the hill districts of the state, opposing the demand of the Meities, who constitute 53 per cent of the population, to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to them.
The All Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur (ATSUM) organized the solidarity march against the Meity’s demand for ST status after the Manipur High Court asked the state government to recommend the proposal to the Central government within four weeks’ time.
During the solidarity march, a mob attacked some Meitei community people leading to retaliation and escalation of the violence elsewhere in the state.