After another round of violence was reported in Manipur this week, the Home Ministry on Sunday appointed a three-member Commission of Inquiry to probe the ethnic clashes in the north-eastern state.
The commission will be chaired by Ajai Lamba, former Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court and will have two members including Himanshu Shekhar Das, retired IAS officer and Aloka Prabhakar, retired IPS.
This comes after 15 people were injured when suspected Kuki militants, armed with sophisticated weapons and bombs attacked two villages in Imphal on Friday night.
However, there was no incident of fresh violence reported in the last 24 hours and the state has been “completely peaceful,” security adviser to state government Kuldiep Singh said.
Following an appeal by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, 35 more arms and ammunition have been surrendered, in addition to over 140 arms and ammunition surrendered on Friday.
Taking to Twitter on Sunday, Shah appealed people of the state to lift road blockages for swift transport of relief amenities to people affected.
“My sincerest appeal to the people of Manipur is to lift the blockades at the Imphal-Dimapur, NH-2 Highway, so that food, medicines, Petrol/Diesel, and other necessary items can reach the people,” Shah said.
My sincerest appeal to the people of Manipur is to lift the blockades at the Imphal-Dimapur, NH-2 Highway, so that food, medicines, Petrol/Diesel, and other necessary items can reach the people.I also request that Civil Society Organisations do the needful in bringing…
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) June 4, 2023
“I also request that Civil Society Organisations do the needful in bringing consensus. Together only we can restore normalcy in this beautiful state,” he added.
What had happened in Imphal?
After the violence was reported in Imphal, personnel of the state police and Manipur Rifles stationed at the two villages Phayeng and Kangchup Chingkhong retaliated leading to an exchange of fire.
This lasted for more than four hours on Friday night and later pushed back the militants to nearby hills, the police said.
The injured were admitted to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences and Raj Medicity in Imphal where the conditions of the two injured is stated to be critical, police had informed.
After this, some reports of fresh attacks were also reported from Pombikhok in the Bishnupur district though no casualty or injury is reported.
Amit Shah’s visit
Amit Shah held a series of meetings with political and civil society leaders from both the Meitei and Kuki communities and visit Churachandpur, the site of some of the worst rioting earlier this month, on Tuesday.
Shah, who flew in to Imphal last week accompanied by home secretary, had held a meeting with chief minister N Biren Singh, as well some of his cabinet colleague, intelligence and security officials on Monday late night to take stock of the situation.
The meeting, sources told PTI, decided on a series of relief measures as well as steps to augment supplies in this north-eastern state to cool down prices of essential commodities which have soared since ethnic violence began earlier this month.
Why is Manipur burning?
Kukis have been demanding a separate administration for districts they live in, failing which they have also asked for President’s rule being imposed on the state.
Manipur, afflicted by ethnic conflict for nearly a month witnessed a sudden spurt in clashes and firing between militants and security forces on Sunday, after a relative lull for several weeks.
The death toll from clashes since ethnic rioting began on May 3 has gone up to 80 according to officials.
Army and paramilitary personnel have been conducting combing operations in the Imphal valley and surrounding districts, an official said. The Army operation is aimed at confiscating illegal caches of arms, he said.
Ethnic clashes, first broke out in Manipur after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts on May 3 to protest the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
The violence was preceded by tension over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, which had led to a series of smaller agitations. Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals Nagas and Kukis constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.