The Army today held a flag march in violence-hit areas in Manipur amid an ongoing protest by tribal groups over a court order on Scheduled Tribe status. Curfew was imposed in eight districts of Manipur last night after violence erupted in Imphal, Churachandpur and Kangpokpi. The Manipur government has also suspended mobile internet in the state.
Incidents of violence were reported today in some parts of Imphal. The Army and paramilitary forces were called in to contain the escalating violence. A flag march was held today by the armed forces to keep the situation under control. Nearly 9,000 people have been rescued and given shelter in army camps and government office premises in various areas of the state following the violence.
"Indian Army and Assam Rifles undertook major rescue operations to evacuate more than 7,500 civilians of all communities relentlessly throughout the night to restore law and order in Manipur. The Indian Army remains committed to the well-being and safety of the population of Manipur," the army said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the All Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM) called a 'Tribal Solidarity March' in Torbung area of Churachandpur district to protest against the non-tribal Meiteis community's demand for a Scheduled tribe status. According to the police, thousands took part in the rally during which violence broke out between tribals and non-tribals.
As per existing law, the Meiteies are not allowed to settle in the hill areas of the state.
A venue where Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh was scheduled to address a programme on Wednesday was vandalised. Additional security forces were rushed to the location from other parts of the state to control the situation.Union Home Minister Amit Shah today spoke with Chief Minister Singh to discuss the violence that followed the protests. The Centre has dispatched Rapid Action Force (RAF) teams to the violence-hit areas of the northeastern state.
"Precious lives have been lost, besides damage of properties, which is very unfortunate," Chief Minister Singh said, as quoted by news agency PTI.
"The state government is taking all steps to maintain the law and order situation and additional para-military forces have been requisitioned to protect the lives and properties of the people. Central and state forces have been directed to take strong action against individuals and groups who are indulging in violence," he added.
Amid the ongoing protests, Chief Minister Zoramthanga of Mizoram wrote to his Manipur counterpart and appealed for peace.
"As the Chief Minister of Mizoram, a lifelong neighbour that has much in common with Manipur in terms of history and culture, I am deeply pained by the violence that has flared up in parts of your State and the underlying tension between the Meitei community and the tribals there," he wrote in a letter.
Boxing legend Mary Kom took to social media to call for peace in the state.
"My state Manipur is burning, kindly help," she wrote on social media.
In view of the volatile situation in the state, curfew has been imposed in non-tribal dominated Imphal West, Kakching, Thoubal, Jiribam and Bishnupur districts and tribal-dominated Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal districts.