Manipur violence enters 20th day, death toll surpasses 70
As the violence in Manipur continues for the 20th consecutive day, the death toll has reportedly exceeded 70. Although the situation on the ground appears to have somewhat calmed down, there remains a palpable tension in the air.
In the midst of this turmoil, Chief Minister N Biren Singh made an announcement on Monday that three individuals, including a former Manipur MLA, have been arrested for their suspected involvement in the unrest. The arrests have been made in an effort to quell the violence and restore order in the region.
As ethnic violence continues to plague the region since May 3, the authorities have implemented new restrictions including a reduction in the curfew relaxation period by two hours. The new timing is from 5 am to 2 pm.
On Thursday morning, businesses in New Chekomn, Imphal remained closed as security personnel used a public address system to urge people to stay indoors. This follows an incident on Monday where an MLA and others forced individuals to shut their shops and a mob torched two houses. In response, local residents have constructed makeshift “bunkers” in areas such as Pukhao and Leitanpokpi in theImphal East district to safeguard their neighborhoods. However, security forces dismantled five of these bunkers on Monday in Sinam Khaithong village in Imphal West, according to the police.
Women-led sit-in demonstrations were held in the valley districts, demanding action against Kuki militants and the revocation of the Suspension of Operation (Soo). The protests also addressed issues such as illegal Myanmarese immigrants, the cessation of poppy cultivation in the hill areas, and the opposition to the hill MLAs’ proposal for state bifurcation.
Residents residing near the hills in Manipur have reported occurrences of Kuki militants infiltrating the valley and launching attacks on civilians before swiftly retreating. A recent incident in Moidangpok village, Imphal West district, resulted in injuries to at least three people. The ongoing turmoil has also led to reports of roadblocks obstructing the supply of goods to the Imphal Valley.
On Monday evening, Chief Minister N Biren Singh made an appeal to the public to cease the act of setting houses on fire. Thankfully, the mentioned incident involving the former MLA did not cause any casualties since the burned houses were unoccupied. Singh has also declared that appropriate actions will be taken against those instigating hatred and animosity on social media, both within and outside the state.
In the meantime, Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal has expressed his views on the unrest, emphasizing that while the coronavirus solely affects the physical body, the “communal virus” impacts the political landscape, leaving lasting scars even if its political gains are temporary. The ramifications of the spreading communal virus are beyond imagination.