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Renewed Violence in Manipur, Mohan Bhagwat Cautions Government

Renewed Violence in Manipur, Mohan Bhagwat Cautions Government

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 10: Amidst renewed violence in the north-eastern state of Manipur, the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Mohan Bhagwat, the BJP’s ideological mentor, on Monday expressed his anguish and sounded a warning to the Narendra Modi government.

Speaking on the issue for the first time since violence broke out in May last year, Mr Bhagwat said, “Manipur has been waiting for peace for a year. Violence has to be stopped and it has to be given priority.”

His comments came after an advance security team of Manipur Police that had gone to Jiribam to prepare for the visit of Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh came under attack by unidentified armed miscreants. Two policemen, including the driver of the vehicle were injured. Mr Singh is expected to visit Jiribam, which witnessed violence last week, on Tuesday.

Multiple gunshots were fired at the vehicles of the security forces, who retaliated, police said, adding that the shootout was witnessed near Kotlen village along a stretch of National Highway-53.

The ambush of the advanced security team came amidst a backdrop of heightened violence in the region. The recent surge in violence began on June 6, after the discovery of the body of Soibam Saratkumar Singh, a 59-year-old Meitei farmer who had been missing for weeks. The discovery of Singh’s body ignited a wave of outrage among residents, prompting urgent calls for enhanced security measures and the right to arm themselves for protection.

On June 8, suspected insurgents who came in three-four boats in a river in Manipur’s Jiribam district attacked many police outposts and set homes on fire, police sources said. The attack started at 12.30 am in Jiribam’s Chotobekra, on the banks of the Barak river, a police officer posted there said. Two police outposts, a forest beat office and at least 70 houses were torched in Jiribam by suspected militants. “Chotobekra outpost was burned down at 12.30 am,” the officer said, adding the suspected insurgents then attacked the police outposts (OPs) in Lamtai Khunou and Modhupur. A police officer said the worst-affected villages were Lamtai Khunou, Dibong Khunou, Nunkhal, and Begra in Jiribam district.

Another officer posted at a police OP in Borobekra in Jiribam subdivision, a few kilometres from Chotobekra, said the suspected insurgents began attacking this OP at 2.30 am. “They came in boats, and attacked the OPs in the dark,” the officer said, requesting anonymity.

The suspected insurgents attacked many villages along the river, police sources said. They confirmed the visuals of suspected insurgents setting homes on fire and celebrating on camera as from the attacks that happened this morning.

The situation deteriorated rapidly, spilling over into neighbouring Assam, where approximately 600 individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds sought refuge in Lakhipur, Cachar district, fleeing the violence gripping their homeland. Jiribam, situated 220 km from the state capital Imphal, is a strategic gateway bordering Assam, traversed by the vital National Highway-37. Its significance is further underscored by the presence of numerous Kuki villages nestled in the surrounding hills.

The Assam Rifles on Friday evacuated 250 members of the Meitei community living on the outskirts of Jiribam town, a day after ethnic tension flared up. Leishabithol, from where the Meitei families were evacuated, is near the hills where the Kuki tribes are dominant, while interior Jiribam has a large Meitei presence. The families can return once the situation cools down and enough security forces reach there, the officials said, adding there are not enough forces in the area as many had left for election duties.

Sources said Manipur Police commandos are being sent to Jiribam to counter the suspected insurgents. In the wake of fresh violence in Jiribam district, Assam on Sunday intensified security measures along its interstate border, particularly in the Lakhipur area of Cachar district. The recent unrest in Manipur has prompted hundreds to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighbouring Assam.

In response to the influx and to prevent the violence from crossing the border, Assam Police has significantly ramped up security measures. Special commando units have been deployed along the Assam-Manipur border, and regular patrols have been initiated to maintain order and reassure the local population.

Numal Mahatta, the Superintendent of Police in Cachar, said, “After the incidents of violence in Manipur’s Jiribam, we have deployed sufficient security, including our special commando force in the bordering areas. They are conducting regular patrols, and the people are living peacefully in Lakhipur. Nearly 600 people have taken shelter with their relatives after the violence erupted on the other side of the border. We are closely monitoring the situation to ensure that similar incidents do not occur in our state.”

Mr Mahatta praised the collaborative efforts between the police and the local community, adding, “The public has been very cooperative. We have convened a peace committee in Lakhipur, and security has been bolstered. If anyone attempts to destabilize the peaceful atmosphere, we will take legal action against them. Our Chief Minister has instructed us to provide shelter to those fleeing violence from the neighbouring state, but proper listing and documentation must be conducted.”

The situation in Jiribam remains tense, with ongoing efforts to manage the unrest and prevent further escalation. The curfew, imposed on June 6, continues to be in effect as authorities work to stabilise the region and prevent further violence.



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