Thousands rescued as Manipur remains tense | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Thousands rescued as Manipur remains tense

By, , Imphal/new Delhi
May 08, 2023 12:09 AM IST

The army said on Sunday no major flare-ups were reported overnight and that a curfew was lifted between 7-10 am in one of the main flashpoint areas.

People stepped out of a curfew briefly on Sunday for the first time since ethnic violence singed parts of Manipur and killed at least 37 people, as a massive military deployment, and peace efforts appeared to soothe some nerves.

Security personnel during a rescue operation in Manipur on Sunday. (ANI)
Security personnel during a rescue operation in Manipur on Sunday. (ANI)

Also read: Shashi Tharoor calls for President's rule in Manipur: ‘voters feeling grossly betrayed’

The army said on Sunday no major flare-ups were reported overnight and that a curfew was lifted between 7-10am in Churachandpur district, one of the main flashpoint areas. Army drones and helicopters kept watch as the Indian Army pegged the number of people it was sheltering at military bases at 23,500.

“We can confirm that 37 deaths are directly linked to the violence. The reported number is a little more. We are verifying the other deaths. It takes time to verify each case because officials are also working to restore peace and engaged in confidence building measures,” said Kuldiep Singh, the security advisor to the state government and the former director general of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

Singh said the administration will hold meetings with community leaders and public representatives, and relax curfews in more parts of the state where violence erupted on May 3. “We held peace meetings at 9 places. Community leaders have assisted us in ensuring that people do not resort to violence. People have also been surrendering arms. We told community leaders to tell everyone not to believe in rumours and call up the helpline if there is any confusion,” he added.

A large number of arms were stolen by rioters from police stations, and Singh said 134 weapons had been recovered.

Separately, a BJP MLA and chairman of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) Dinganglung Gangmei moved Supreme Court against the HC order on ST status for Meitei community. A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narashima and JB Pardiwala is scheduled to hear the matter on Monday.

On Sunday, a sense of tension was palpable in Imphal, which, like most other parts of the state, was shut down for the fifth day in the row.

The unrest in Manipur erupted after a protest march by a tribal group over a Manipur high court order asking the Centre to provide scheduled tribe reservation to dominant Meitei tribe.

In wake of the violence, the government issued “shoot-at-sight” orders in “extreme cases”, imposed curfews and cut the internet.

Tribal groups including the Kukis are unhappy about the prospect of the state’s majority Meitei community being recognised under a “scheduled tribe” category.

L Sanglun Simte, 29, a Kuki community member who along with 11 members of his family was among hundreds camping outside the airport in Imphal, said many members of his ethnic group were now fleeing their homes. “We fled for safety. Things are not okay. They are just attacking us Kukis,” he told a news agency. Simte said his 49-year-old cousin, Siemcha Gangte, was killed by a mob on Thursday and his house was set on fire.

He alleged that when they were attacked by being called outsiders, the police did not help them. Simte, who has booked a flight for Agartala, the capital of neighbouring Tripura, said he would return only if security improved. “We don’t feel safe right now,” he said.

State’s director general of police P Doungel said that the situation in the state improved after the intervention of security forces.

Also read: Manipur violence: 676 Nagaland civilians evacuated from Imphal

The autonomous committee administers the hill districts of Manipur, where Kuki and Naga tribals, who are about 40% of the state’s population, are in majority. The more dominant Imphal valley, which sends 40 of the 60 MLAs to the state assembly, has Meitei majority, who are 54% of the state’s population.

The petition said the order directing the state government to recommend a tribe for the Scheduled Tribes List falls solely within the jurisdiction of the State, and not the High Court, while seeking to quash the high court order. On March 27, the high court directed the State to consider the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes list.

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