In a press conference held on Sunday, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh announced that security forces have neutralized nearly 40 militants responsible for a recent surge of violence in the north-eastern state. The operation was initiated in response to rampant house torchings and civilian shootings, marking a steep escalation in ongoing ethnic tensions.
The fresh outbreak of conflict on Sunday sparked confrontations at over half a dozen locations across Manipur between armed groups and security forces. In a significant clarification, the Chief Minister pointed out that the current conflict was not community-based, but rather a struggle between Kuki militants and the security forces. According to Singh, armed militants, armed with high-powered weaponry including AK-47s, M-16s, and sniper rifles, have been firing upon civilians. The security forces, in response, have launched counter-attacks targeting these militants.
In a plea to the public, the Chief Minister urged them not to impede the movements of security personnel, asking for faith in the government and support for security forces. “We have endured hardship for too long and will never permit the state to disintegrate,” he stated.
Singh also disclosed that many Kuki militants involved in killing civilians, destroying property, and setting houses ablaze have been apprehended by the Jat regiment. The latest wave of violence commenced after the army began combing operations aimed at disarming communities in an effort to restore peace.
Recent reports indicate that the residence of BJP MLA Khwairakpam Raghumani Singh in Uripok, Imphal West, has been vandalized and his two vehicles torched. Clashes broke out in various districts surrounding Imphal Valley in the early morning hours, involving both militant groups and security forces, and rival ethnic militant groups.
As a consequence of these developments, roadblocks manned by women have emerged, delaying patrolling army columns. There’s also an unverified account of a Meitei group looting arms from a police station in Kakching.
These clashes, having claimed over 75 lives so far, were initially triggered by a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ in early May to protest the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. The state’s population is composed of 53% Meiteis, who primarily reside in the Imphal Valley, and 40% Tribal Nagas and Kukis living in the hill districts.
To quell the unrest, the government has deployed approximately 140 columns of the Indian Army and Assam Rifles, equating to over 10,000 personnel, in addition to other paramilitary forces. The aim is to restore peace and normalcy to this embattled northeastern state.