Death Toll In Manipur Violence Reaches 54
The death toll in the Manipur massacre rose to 54, according to officials, although unofficial sources claim it could be even higher. On Saturday, there was a cautious return to normalcy in Imphal Valley, with the reopening of shops and markets, and increased movement of cars on the roads. Significant security presence, including additional army troops, rapid action forces, and central police forces, was visibly present in major areas and along the roads.
Most shops and markets in Imphal town and other locations resumed operations in the morning, with people purchasing vegetables and essential commodities, while a large number of security forces were deployed.
The official figures state that 16 bodies were kept in the Churachandpur district hospital morgue, 15 bodies were in the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal East district, and 23 bodies were reported at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal West district.
In separate incidents on Friday night, five militants from hill-based groups were killed, and two India Reserve Battalion jawans were injured in encounters in Churachandpur district. One encounter occurred in Saiton, resulting in the deaths of four militants, while in Torbung, militants opened fire at security forces, leading to the death of one militant and injuries to two IRB jawans.
Present State As Per Defense Spokesperson
A Defense spokesperson stated that a total of 13,000 people were rescued and relocated to safe shelters, including army camps, as the army established “firm control” over Churachandpur, Moreh, Kakching, and Kangpokpi districts.
According to multiple sources, the clashes between communities have resulted in numerous casualties and nearly a hundred injuries. However, the police have yet to confirm these reports. The bodies have been brought in from districts such as Imphal East and West, Churachandpur, and Bishenpur. Several individuals with bullet injuries are also receiving treatment at RIMS and Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences.
The prompt response by security forces has facilitated the rescue of civilians from various affected areas, representing different communities. Consequently, Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, Moreh, and Kakching are now under firm control, with no major violence reported since the previous night.
Approximately 10,000 soldiers from the Army and Assam Rifles have been deployed in Manipur due to the clashes between the Meitei community, primarily residing in Imphal Valley, and the Kuki tribals inhabiting the hill districts.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Chief Minister N Biren Singh and top officials to review the situation in Manipur. Additional security forces and anti-riot vehicles were dispatched by the central government to maintain peace in the region.
Trains to Manipur have been canceled immediately as a result of the prevailing situation, as stated by a spokesperson from Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).
How The Violence Started
The violence initially erupted during the ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ organized by the All Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM) in the Torbung area of Churachandpur district. The march aimed to protest the demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status by the Meiteis. Allegedly, an armed mob attacked individuals from the Meitei community during the march, leading to retaliatory attacks in the valley districts and escalating the violence across the state.
The Meiteis, accounting for approximately 53% of the population, predominantly reside in Imphal Valley, while tribals, including Kukis, represent around 40% of the population and primarily inhabit the surrounding hill districts.