Four killed in fresh violence in foothill districts of Manipur

Bishnupur SP Heisnam Balram Singh said bunkers set up by villagers near Khujuma Tabi, a Meitei village, were attacked by armed miscreants

July 02, 2023 09:21 am | Updated 11:07 pm IST - New Delhi

At least four people were killed as armed miscreants attacked bunkers at Khujuma Tabi, a Meitei village, on July 2, 2023.

At least four people were killed as armed miscreants attacked bunkers at Khujuma Tabi, a Meitei village, on July 2, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

At least four men were killed in fresh round of violence in Manipur on July 2. The police said that three villagers in Bishnupur, adjoining Churachandpur, were killed in an unprovoked attack, and a village volunteer was killed when the Kuki-Zo tribal villages of Langza and Chinglangmei were attacked in retaliation.

Bishnupur Superintendent of Police (SP) Heisnam Balram Singh said that around midnight, bunkers set up by villagers near Khujuma Tabi, a Meitei village, were attacked by armed miscreants.

“Three village guards were killed by the miscreants who are suspected to have come from the hill areas. By the time the police reached the spot, they had left but took vantage positions and an exchange of fire took place,” Mr. Singh told The Hindu. The village runs along the State Highway. Following the incident, a large number of agitated people came out and stormed the nearby Kuki villages of Langza and Chinglangmei in Churachandpur. A village volunteer was killed then.

Also read: Data | Kuki-Meitei ethnic violence: The sharp hill-valley divide that is Manipur’s burden

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) said that a church was razed to the ground in the attack that happened around midnight.

“The police teams of Bishnupur and Churachandpur are coordinating to assess the scale of violence,” Mr. Singh said. He added that locals took the three bodies to Kumbi legislator Sanasam Premchandra Singh’s residence. Chief Minister N. Biren Singh visited the area. Churachandpur SP Karthik Malladi could not be reached for comments. A villager from the area told The Hindu over the phone that the bunkers put up by the Meitei and the Kuki-Zo villages are barely a few hundred metres apart.

“The Meitei checkpost (bunker) is at a height, they first fired upon the Kuki bunker near Langza village on the opposite side. The Kuki parties from the two bunkers of Langza and Canaphai pushed back the attackers and in the ensuing fire, three men were killed,” Nehngam, a villager said.

He said the Langza village was burnt down and a youth identified as David Thiek was set ablaze. “His head was severed, put up for display and body burnt to ashes. All we could retrieve were his bones,” he said.

As many as 138 people have been killed and over 60,000 displaced since May 3, when the ethnic violence between the Kuki and Meitei communities erupted. Since the violence, the areas in the foothills, with adjacent Kuki and Meitei settlements, have been turned into buffer zones where Central forces have been deployed.

Meanwhile, the United People’s Front (UPF) and Kuki National Organisation (KNO), the umbrella organisation of the 24 Kuki insurgent groups in a Suspension of Operations (SoO) pact with the government, said on Sunday that they have decided to lift the blockade at Kangpokpi with immediate effect to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential commodities in the State.

It said the decision was taken “notwithstanding the anger and anguish of the Kuki Zo people” and keeping in view Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s deep concern to restore peace and harmony in the State. The decision was taken after wide-ranging consultations with Civil Society Organisations, village chiefs, youth and women leaders on several occasions, it said.

“The Kuki Zo organisations had earlier met the Union Home Minister and appealed to him to provide security in the vulnerable villages in the bordering and foothill areas. We appreciate that central forces have been deployed in most of these areas as assured and the process is in progress. Once the deployment of Central Forces is completed in all vulnerable areas, we will ensure that our volunteers are withdrawn from these areas to help restore peace and tranquillity,” it said.

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