GUWAHATI: Manipur saw a resurgence of lawlessness exactly three months after ethnic strife first erupted on May 3, leaving 23 people wounded on Thursday. The violence centred in Bishnupur, where hundreds of woman protesters initiated a march to “prevent” the mass burial of 35 victims of the festering violence in Churachandpur, which was postponed earlier following the intervention of Union home minister Amit Shah and the Manipur high court ordering a status quo at 6am.

The protesters clashed with central security forces, who responded with tear gas shells and mock bombs, resulting in 21 people being wounded, many of them women, while a mob reportedly looted a significant number of arms and ammunition from the armoury of the 2nd India Reserve Battalion (IRB) in Naransena of Bishnupur district.

In a separate attack, a Manipur Rifles jawan and another man suffered gunshots when unidentified gunmen opened fire at Senjam Chirang in Imphal West district early in the morning. A confrontation between a mob and security forces occurred in Imphal West and Imphal East districts as well, with hundreds of people attempting to storm the battalion headquarters of 2nd and 7th Manipur Rifles, demanding arms and ammunition. The forces repelled the attack. The violence prompted authorities to re-impose a total curfew in both districts.

Tensions escalated in Bishnupur after the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum announced Tuesday its plan to honour the 35 people killed in the violence since May 3 at the Peace ground at Tuibuong, followed by a burial ceremony at S Boljang village.
The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), an apex body of civil societies in Imphal, objected to the mass burial, considering it an “affront to the people”.
Around 11am on Thursday, large groups of women from different parts of Imphal valley gathered at Phougakchao Ikhai village in Bishnupur to oppose the burial in the adjoining hill district of Churachandpur. They attempted to cross the barricaded buffer zone maintained by central security forces, clashes ensued, and tear gas shells and mock bombs were used to disperse the mob.
Earlier, Assam Rifles and ITLF held a marathon discussion — from Wednesday to 3am Thursday — in Churachandpur. Union junior home minister Nityanand Rai also wrote to ITLF and COCOMI to maintain peace and assured that the matter would be sorted out within a week.

ITLF said it has considered postponing the burial by five days. The group submitted five demands to home minister Shah through Assam Rifles, including the legalisation of the burial ground at S Boljang, withdrawal of state security forces from the hills, handing over the bodies of tribespeople kept in morgues in Imphal, transferring tribal prisoners to other states for their safety, and a political demand for “total separation” from Manipur.
The state’s deputy advocate general requested the Manipur HC for an immediate hearing on a PIL filed by the International Meiteis Forum to prevent fresh violence over the proposed burial. The bench of acting Chief Justice MV Muralidaran and Justice A Guneshwar Sharma convened at 6am and ordered all stakeholders to maintain status quo until August 9 on the place where the burial is planned.

Caught on cam: Massive clashes erupt in Manipur's Bishnupur area, heavy firing by security forces

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Caught on cam: Massive clashes erupt in Manipur’s Bishnupur area, heavy firing by security forces

The HC also allowed representatives of the Kuki-Zo community to apply for land allotment for burial purposes within one week. The court emphasised the necessity of the interim order due to the volatile law and order situation and the risk of further violence and bloodshed caused by the gathering of large mobs from both communities.


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