2 police personnel killed in Manipur’s Moreh; State asks Centre for ‘air assets’

Kuki-Zo people want removal of Meitei-dominated State police from Moreh; Manipur government wants helicopters to deal with law-and-order, possible medical emergencies, airlift of security personnel, ammunition

Updated - January 18, 2024 02:30 am IST

Published - January 17, 2024 01:14 pm IST

File photo for representation.

File photo for representation. | Photo Credit: K Murali Kumar

Two police personnel were killed in an exchange of fire with armed miscreants in Manipur’s Moreh on Wednesday, prompting the State government to ask the Union government to send helicopters to deal with the situation. The town of Moreh, which lies along the Myanmar border, has witnessed several instances of firing between Manipur police commandos and armed miscreants over the past week.

The Kuki-Zo community which dominates the area has demanded the removal of State police from Moreh as most police personnel belong to the Meitei community. A large number of central armed police forces (CAPF), such as the Assam Rifles and the Border Security Force (BSF), are deployed here.

The Manipur government has requested the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for “air assets” — meaning, helicopters — in the wake of the “continued exchange of fire between State police commandos and armed miscreants in border town of Moreh”, according to a letter from T. Ranjit Singh, Commissioner (Home), Manipur. The letter added that one Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) personnel was killed on Wednesday morning.

Also Read: Explained | On delisting some Kuki-Zomi tribes in Manipur

‘Deteriorating situation’

“The law and order situation at the border town of Moreh has become a matter of serious concern.... In view of the prevalent situation, the situation may deteriorate further in Moreh, and medical emergency may arise any time. The Police Department has also informed that there is also need for airlifting of security personnel, ammunition, etc. to Moreh,” the letter states.

“It is, therefore, requested that MHA may kindly provide MHA Air Asset (Helicopter) to the State Government and place it at Imphal immediately from today, for at least a period of 7 days to meet the emergency requirements,” it said.

The letter requested the Centre to treat the issue as “very important and urgent”. Manipur has been affected by ethnic violence between the Kuki-Zo and Meitei communities since last May.

Also read: Two held for killing of Moreh SDPO in Manipur

‘Kuki militants attacked police’

The Press Trust of India reported that the two deceased police personnel were identified as Takhellambam Saileshwore and Wangkhem Somorjit, an IRB personnel attached to the State police commandos in Moreh. The news agency cited police reports that suspected Kuki militants had attacked a vehicle belonging to the security forces in Moreh, adding that the security forces also exchanged fire with suspected Kuki militants in three different locations in Moreh town on Wednesday morning.

Police said that the militants hurled bombs and fired at a post of security forces near SBI Moreh, adding that the security forces had then retaliated. The militants had also fired RPG shells at the temporary commando post damaging several vehicles parked in the vicinity, PTI reported.

Also Read: CBI chargesheets five accused in Manipur police armoury loot case

Meitei women protest

In the Imphal West district, large numbers of women from Malom blocked the road to the airport in protest against the killing of the policemen in Moreh. L. Premchand, a spokesperson for the joint action committee formed in connection with the killing of Somorjit, told reporters that “the body of the deceased personnel will not be accepted by the family members till the culprits are arrested and brought to justice”. Wearing traditional mourning dress, women sat in the middle of road to prevent all forms of vehicular movement on the route.

In another development, a large number of Meira Paibis from Imphal’s main market of Khwairamband Keithel took out a rally demanding the reinforcement of State forces at Moreh. They marched towards the Chief Minister’s bungalow but were stopped by police.

(With inputs from PTI)

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