A day after Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said that bunkers set up in hills and valley areas will be pulled down by security forces, a defence source said that all such structures will be removed in the next ten days. The exercise will begin on July 5.
Mr. Singh said on Monday that the Army will lead the operations and will be joined by the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).
Kuki groups said they will oppose any such attempt. On Tuesday, the representatives of Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) met GOC 3 Corps Lt. General H.S. Sahi in Churachandpur and told him that any move by the Army to destroy the bunkers will be faced with stiff resistance.
The rudimentary bunkers, varying from sandbags to tin boards were set up by members of the Kuki and Meitei communities in areas where settlements of the two communities are adjacent to each other.
After the ethnic violence erupted in the State on May 3, buffer zones were created between the valley where the Meitei people live and, in the hills, where the Kuki people are to stop clashes. Central security forces and the Army is deployed in these zones.
Muan Tombing, general secretary of ITLF, said, “We are using these bunkers to defend our villages. We told the GOC that any attempt to remove the duty posts will be met with stiff resistance.”
More than 4,000 weapons and lakhs of ammunition have been looted from police camps in Manipur since May 3. While close to 1,150 weapons have been returned, many sophisticated weapons are still with the public. The foothills have witnessed multiple incidents of firing in the past few days. A government official said insurgent groups who have entered from Myanmar are using the stolen weapons to attack the civilians.
“The bunkers will be destroyed but disarming the civilians is also a priority. Despite repeated requests, the weapons have not been returned,” the official said.
On Monday, at a press conference, the Chief Minister asserted that there is information on people with possession of illegal arms in both hill and valley areas. He said that a mass frisking would be started.
Violence breaks out
One person was killed on Tuesday morning when security forces opened fire at a mob that attempted to loot weapons from a police camp in Thoubal district.
“One rioter was killed while a few others were injured during the failed attempt at the India Reserve Battalion at Khangabok in Thoubal”, the Army said.
“Mob had laid roadblocks to prevent movement of reinforcements. However, additional columns of Assam Rifles and Rapid Action Force were able to induct, and the situation was brought under control by synergised efforts of security forces,” the Army added.
In the process, “an Assam Rifles (AR) person sustained bullet injury in the leg while miscreants also torched one vehicle of AR,” a source said.
In the hill district of Churachandpur, the house of Seilen Haokip, the spokesperson of the Kuki National Organisation (KNO), was torched by unknown persons.
The KNO and United People’s Front (UPF), the umbrella group of the 24 Kuki insurgent groups in a Suspension of Operations pact with the government, announced on July 2 that the 60-day road blockade at Kangpokpi on National Highway 2 will be removed with immediate effect to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential commodities in the State.
Colonel Atul Kumar, Commander, 25 Border Road Task Force (BRTF), met Governor Anusuiya Uikey on Tuesday and apprised her regarding the progress of fencing along the Myanmar border.
A tweet by the Raj Bhavan said that the Governor advised the Commander “to get the work expedited mainly to contain the illegal activities in the border areas as well as sneaking of insurgents and anti-social elements into the State from neighbouring countries”.