Arms and ammunition in the hands of “miscreants” is turning out to be a nightmare for security forces in violence-hit Manipur, with even the Army coming under fire on Monday.
According to sources, ever since violence in the state again escalated on the night of May 27-28, civilians have been trying to seize arms from security establishments in Imphal. At the 7th Battalion Manipur Rifles in Imphal East, sources said that a few hundred people gathered at the gate in an attempt to seize arms but were dispersed by personnel. A large number of people also gathered at Porompat police station and made a similar attempt on Monday morning, only to be dispersed using tear gas.
#WATCH | Security forces deployed, markets closed as curfew is imposed in Manipur’s Imphal following incidents of violence
Union Home Minister Amit Shah is set to arrive in Imphal later today on a four-day visit to the state. He will hold several rounds of security meetings to… pic.twitter.com/wpYtm1INDO
— ANI (@ANI) May 29, 2023
Arms were also recovered from multiple locations by security personnel amid incidents of attempted arson and shooting.
According to Army inputs, 22 people were apprehended after an operation based on inputs that armed miscreants were venturing out to burn houses in Sanasabi, Gwaltabi and Shabunkhol in Imphal East district.
“Army columns were fired upon with automatic weapons by miscreants who were trying to burn the houses. Five twelve bore double barrel rifles, three single barrel rifles, one country made weapon with double bore and one muzzle loaded rifle were recovered,” said the PRO (Defence) Kohima and Imphal.
Separately, an INSAS rifle with magazine, 60 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition, a Chinese hand grenade and a detonator were recovered from three people who were apprehended from New Checkon on Sunday night.
As reported by The Indian Express when the violence first broke out earlier this month, more than 1,000 weapons and 10,000 rounds were looted from Manipur Police Training College, two police stations, and an IRB battalion camp in Imphal by Meities, while police stations in Churachandpur were attacked and looted by Kukis.
Meanwhile, a day after Chief Minister Biren Singh said that around 40 Kuki militants — who he said were targeting civilians — have been killed so far by security forces, the state remained on edge. Among the incidents of arson that took place late Sunday night was the burning of former BJP MLA Yamthong Haokip’s residence in Imphal East. Haokit belongs to the Kuki-Zomi community. Also set on fire was a public hall named Kuki Inn, located in a high-security zone in Imphal West.
Firing was also witnessed in Imphal West’s Ingourok Chingmang on Monday afternoon, and continued till late in the evening.
The Manipur government meanwhile declared that “generation of wrong information” will amount to sedition and that no person will be immune from prosecution if found spreading “fake news, lies, rumours or misinformation”.
An order issued by the state Home Department stated: “Generation of such wrong information has the potential to worsen the current situation in the State by misguiding public opinion, instigating violence and to rebel against the authority of the state with or without the use of arms, leading to death of human lives, casualties on bodies and destruction and damage of properties while the State Government is making all efforts to restore peace and normalcy.”
The large-scale displacement of people also continued in the state. After violent clashes in Sugnu and Serou in Kakching district, around 2,000 Meitei villagers were evacuated from Serou to Pangaltabi Relief Camp and 328 Kuki-Zomi villagers were evacuated from Sugnu to Sajik Tampak.