Death toll rises to 98 in Manipur's month-long ethnic violence, 310 injured
It is reported that 144 sophisticated weapons looted from police and other security forces have been surrendered on Friday, 2 June
The death toll in the month-long ethnic violence has risen to 98 and the number of injured to 310 while 144 sophisticated arms, looted earlier from the police and various security forces, have been surrendered in different districts, said the chief security advisor to the Manipur government, Kuldiep Singh, on Friday.
Singh said that the numbers of FIRs registered have gone up to 3,734 and a total of 65 persons have been arrested till Friday while the 4,014 cases of arson have been reported.
Also Read: Why Manipur is Burning
"Of the 144 surrendered weapons, there are 37 SLRs, 18 carbines, four AK 47 rifles," he told the media, adding that currently around 37,450 people of different communities are being sheltered in 272 relief camps, including community halls, in 13 districts.
He also said that no major violent incident has been reported in the last 24 hours, barring a one or two incidents of firing in the state which has been dealt with strictly by the security forces like state police, central paramilitary forces, Army and Assam Rifles.
Union home minister Amit Shah, on the last day of his four-day visit to violence-hit Manipur on Thursday, had requested all concerned to surrender their weapons to the security forces and administration, otherwise strict legal action would be taken against those who are possessing arms and ammunition.
Defence officials said that intelligence information-based combing operations are underway across Manipur.
"To ensure sustainable peace in Manipur, security forces have identified de-weaponisation and enforcement of the provisions of the Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement signed with the Kuki militants as focal points to be addressed immediately from the security perspective across Manipur," a defence spokesman said.
He said that intelligence sources have been energised and dedicated columns kept on standby to ensure quick action on receipt of input for early recovery of weapons.
"Surprise checks are being conducted in the designated camps of the Kuki militants under the SoO deal to ensure the availability of weapons and presence of cadres as stipulated in the agreement," the defence PRO said.
He said that the Union Minister asked the Kuki militants to abide by the provisions of the agreement to maintain peace.
"Pursuant to the Home Minister's directions, security forces have evolved detailed plans to launch large scale combing operations for the recovery of snatched weapons besides surprise checks of the designated camps Kuki militants," he said.
The Home Minister on Thursday announced that an Inter-Security agency unified command headed by Chief Security Advisort Kuldiep Singh, a retired IPS officer and former CRPF chief, would be formed and it would impartially conduct all the security related operations.
There are 2,266 Kuki cadres staying in different designated camps in Manipur after the Centre and the Manipur governments signed the tripartite Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement with three outfits -- the Kuki National Army (KNA), Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), and Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) -- on August 22, 2008.
Meanwhile, officials in Imphal said that curfew was relaxed for 7 to 12 hours in most of the districts including Imphal West and Imphal East district. There is no curfew now in Tamenglong, Noney, Senapati, Ukhrul, and Kamjong districts.
Manipur had witnessed unprecedented ethnic violence since May 3 after a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in 11 hill districts by the All Tribal Students' Union of Manipur to protest the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe status.
It was preceded by tension over the eviction of Kuki villagers by the state government from reserve forest land, which had led to a series of smaller agitations in four districts.
Tomorrow, June 4, is marked as the International Day of Innocent Child Victims of Aggression. For the children of Manipur, many of them stuck in relief camps in their own or neighbouring states, or sheltering with friends and family further afield in the country, normalcy seems like a faraway dream.