Tension in several Manipur districts, curfew relaxed for 3 hrs in Churachandpur

In the wake of the ongoing unrest in Manipur, over 2,000 men, women and children have crossed the border into Assam's Cachar district and sheltered in seven government-sponsored camps.

Imphal: Even as tension prevails in several Manipur districts and the Army and central para-military forces continued their vigil in the strife-torn areas, the administration in the most volatile Churachandpur district relaxed the curfew on Sunday for three hours from 10 a.m.

Churachandpur District Magistrate Sharath Chandra Arroju in a notification said the subsequent relaxations will be reviewed and notified based on the assessment of the prevailing law and order situation.

Chief Minister N. Biren Singh in a tweet said: “With the law and order situation improving in Churachandpur district and after talks were held between the state government and various stakeholders, I’m pleased to share that the curfew will be partially relaxed…”

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Defence release on Sunday said that “Ray of hope due to efforts of 120-125 Army and Assam Rifles columns, who are working tirelessly for the past 96 hours to rescue civilians across all communities, curb violence and restore normalcy, has emerged with no major violence being reported, and curfew, therefore being relaxed from 7-10 a.m. on Sunday in Churachandpur followed by flag march by security forces immediately thereafter”.

The past 24 hours also witnessed the Army significantly enhancing surveillance efforts through aerial surveillance through the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and Army helicopters within Imphal Valley.

Over 23,000 civilians have been rescued till now and were moved to their own Army operating bases and military Garrisons, the sources said.

In the wake of the ongoing unrest in Manipur, over 2,000 men, women and children have crossed the border into Assam’s Cachar district and sheltered in seven government-sponsored camps and more than 200 people, mostly women and children took shelter in Mizoram’s Saitual and Vairengte districts.

Manipur government’s newly-appointed security advisor Kuldiep Singh, a former CRPF chief, said that at least 28 to 30 people were killed in the series of ethnic violence in different districts of Manipur.

However, local media quoting hospital sources said that at least 50 to 55 people, including women, have been killed in the attacks and counter attacks by the rival ethnic groups in at least six districts since May 3.

“Over 100 people have been injured in these attacks. More than 500 houses, along with a large number of vehicles, shops and other properties were either burnt down or damaged in these attacks since May 3,” Singh told the media in Imphal.

He said that 23 police stations in different districts have been identified as most vulnerable and the Army and Central Armed Police Forces were adequately deployed in these areas.

Flag marches by the Army and Assam Rifles are continuing in over six districts, especially in the most volatile Churachandpur district, Singh said.

In view of the prevailing unrest in Manipur, the Central government has already imposed Article 355 in the state to bring the situation under control.

Article 355 is part of emergency provisions contained in the Constitution that empowers the Centre to take all necessary steps to protect a state against internal disturbances or external aggression.

On May 3, unprecedented violent clashes, attacks and arson broke out at various places during a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ called by the All Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur (ATSUM) to oppose the demand for inclusion of the Meitei community in the ST category.

Acting on a writ petition filed by the Meetei (Meitei) Trade Union, the Manipur High Court acting Chief Justice M.V. Muralidaran on April 19 had directed the state government to submit the recommendation for inclusion of Meitei (Meetei) community in the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list to the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry.

The High Court order said: “The issue of inclusion of the Meetei/Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes list of the Constitution is pending for nearly ten years and above. No satisfactory explanation is forthcoming from the side of the respondent state for not submitting the recommendation for the last 10 years.

“Therefore, it would be appropriate to direct the respondent state to submit its recommendation to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs within a reasonable time,” the order said.

Meanwhile, various influential organisations, including All Manipur Christian Organisation, Global Naga Forum while saying that they would cooperate with the government to restore normalcy and urged the people to maintain peace and ethnic harmony.

Manipur Chief Minister once again urged the people to shun the path of violence.

“I appeal to everyone in Manipur to restrain from any form of violence. The state police and the para military have been given strict instructions to take action against those who create disturbances in the law and order of the state,” the Chief Minister tweeted.

In another tweet, he said : “In light of the prevailing situation in Manipur, held a meeting with the representatives of Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) to highlight the crucial role of civil society organisations in bringing peace in the state at this hour.”

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