Suspected extremists gunned down a man in Manipur, triggering fresh violence in the strife-torn State and prompting the authorities to withdraw the relaxation of curfew in vulnerable areas on Wednesday.
The incident happened late Tuesday night in the Meitei-dominated Bishnupur district bordering the hill district of Churachandpur, which is the domain of the Kuki-Zomi tribal group.
Toijam Chandraoni, 30, was shot dead during the violence, and Leichombam Abungnao, aged 22, was injured when suspected militants opened fire at the group of people, mostly comprising those who were displaced during the recent ethnic clashes in Churachandpur and took shelter in a relief camp at Moirang in Bishnupur, a police officer said.
“The villagers and those living in the Moirang camp were angry over the burning of their houses. As these people came to know that militants could torch a school located in an area near Thamnapokpi in Bishnupur and Kanganthei in Churachandpur, they went to the locality. Once, they reached the spot, militants opened fire at them, leaving two persons injured. One of the two succumbed to his injuries when he was taken to a hospital,” the senior police officer said.
Officials said that a group of “miscreants” torched some abandoned houses in Tronglaobi village, which is close to the border between the two districts and near a relief camp set up for those displaced during the recent violence. Those affected retaliated by burning down four abandoned houses in the adjoining Gelmol village, and were then fired upon by suspected militants.
Curfew relaxation cancelled
The incident led to protests in parts of Imphal Valley. Reports said that a group of women belonging to the Meitei community briefly blocked an Army convoy headed toward Churachandpur on Wednesday morning.
The protestors said that the Army and paramilitary forces were not taking any action against the Kuki extremists in ceasefire mode despite their alleged involvement in the violence.
As tension flared up, the authorities withdrew the relaxation of curfew from Bishnupur, Imphal East, and Imphal West districts. Curfew had been relaxed from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., after another round of unrest in Imphal’s New Checkon area on May 22.
Manipur PWD Minister’s house vandalised
Meanwhile, the house of Manipur PWD Minister Konthoujam Govindas in Bishnupur district was vandalised on Wednesday by a group of people claiming that the government in the violence-hit state was not doing enough to protect locals from militants belonging to another community, an official said.
The Minister who is a BJP leader and his family members, however, were not present at the house when the mob, comprising mostly women, attacked the house in Ningthoukhong area and damaged a portion of a gate, windows, a few furniture and electronic gadgets.
This was the first time a Minister’s house was attacked during the ongoing ethnic violence between Meitei and Kuki community people in the state that started three weeks ago.
Army and paramilitary forces have been deployed to control the situation in the state.
Manipur erupted in violence on May 3 following a tribal solidarity march to protest a bid to grant Scheduled Tribe status to the majority Meitei people. The State government imposed a curfew in parts of the State and banned mobile internet and broadband service to keep the violence in check.
Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh, who also holds the Home portfolio, has sought 20 more companies of Central forces to deal with the recurring violence in some areas.
(With PTI inputs)