The demand for the imposition of the President’s Rule in Manipur has gained momentum as the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), representing the Kuki-Mizo-Hmar-Zomi group, called for immediate action following recent waves of violence in the state. The tribal body demanded the resignation of Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, alleging his responsibility for the ongoing unrest.
According to the ITLF, the BJP-led Manipur government has been accused of ethnic cleansing since May 3, resulting in the burning of several tribal villages and the loss of innocent lives. The forum condemned the alleged involvement of valley (Meitei) underground cadres disguised as Manipur Police personnel in perpetrating horrific crimes against the tribals.
Earlier, clashes were reported in several areas of Manipur, including Sugnu in Kakching, Kangvi in Churachandpur, Kangchup in Imphal West, Sagolmang in Imphal East, Nungoipokpi in Bishenpur, Khurkhul in Imphal West, and YKPI in Kangpokpi. The violence led to the death of five individuals, including a Manipur Police Officer. Over 1,000 arms and ammunition were reportedly looted by a mob from the armouries of Manipur Rifles and Indian Reserve Battalion.
Meanwhile, the Indian Army announced that 22 miscreants were apprehended while attempting to set houses on fire in Sanasabi, Gwaltabi, and Shabunkhol Khunao villages in the hilly region of YKPI in Imphal. During the operation, the Army recovered five 12-bore double-barrel rifles, three single-barrel rifles, local weapons, and war-like stores.
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh stated that security forces had eliminated around 40 “terrorists” during their operations to curb violence and protect civilians. In response, the demand for President’s Rule gained momentum.
The violence has led to the displacement of 8,282 individuals from Manipur, who have sought shelter in nine districts of neighbouring Mizoram. Kolasib hosted the highest number of internally displaced people at 2,925, followed by Aizawl at 2,738 and Saitual at 2,257. The remaining 362 individuals sought refuge in Champhai, Khawzawl, Serchhip, Mamit, Lunglei, and Hnahthial districts.
Reports have also emerged of mob looting all arms and ammunition from the armouries of 7 Manipur Rifles at Khabeisoi, 2nd Manipur Rifles at Deulahane, and 3rd India Reserve Battalion at Thoubal. Fierce encounters between suspected Kuki militants and security personnel have occurred in the Imphal West district’s Kadangband and nearby Singda areas. The militants have targeted civilians in several foothills of Manipur and set fire to over 200 houses in three villages near Sugnu in the Kakching district.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has met Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s council of ministers and Governor Anusuiya Uikey. He is also likely to be briefed by the state’s top security officials. According to sources his meetings are likely to continue till late.
During his four-day stay, he will hold several security meetings with stakeholders – top army officials, civil society organisations and influential community leaders, to finalise a strategy to curb the ethnic violence.
The violence in Manipur initially erupted on May 3 during a rally organized by the All Tribals Students Union (ATSU) to protest against the inclusion of the Meitei/Meetei community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. The rally was in response to an April 19 directive by the Manipur High Court regarding the demand for the community’s inclusion.