Curfew relaxed in Manipur; all-party meeting held
People were seen coming out to buy food, medicines and other essential commodities during the curfew relaxation period from 7 am to 10 am in riot-affected Churachandpur town
Even as tension prevails in several Manipur districts and the Army and central para-military forces continued their vigil in the strife-torn areas, the administration in the most volatile Churachandpur district relaxed the curfew on Sunday for three hours from 10 a.m.
Churachandpur District Magistrate Sharath Chandra Arroju in a notification said the subsequent relaxations will be reviewed and notified based on the assessment of the prevailing law and order situation.
People were seen coming out to buy food, medicines and other essential commodities during the curfew relaxation period from 7 am to 10 am in riot-affected Churachandpur town.
Army and Assam Rifles columns conducted a flag march through the town as soon as the curfew relaxation ended at 10 am. In all some 120-125 Army columns have been deployed in the entire riot-hit state.
Sources said some 10,000 soldiers, para-military and central police forces have been deployed in Manipur.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh said peace committees will be formed in every assembly constituency to ensure that peace initiatives are implemented at the grassroots level.
A defence statement said that 23,000 civilians from all communities have been rescued so far and were moved to military garrisons.
The clashes broke out after a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the ten hill districts of the state to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal valley. Tribals -- Nagas and Kukis -- constitute another 40 per cent of the population and live mostly in the hill districts.
"Ray of hope due to efforts of 120-125 Army and Assam Rifles columns who are working tirelessly for the past 96 hours to rescue civilians across all communities, curb violence and restore normalcy has emerged with no major violence being reported and curfew, therefore being relaxed from 7-10 am today in Churachandpur followed by flag march by security forces immediately thereafter," the statement said.
"The past 24 hours also witnessed army significantly enhancing surveillance efforts through aerial surveillance, movement of UAVs and redeployment of army helicopters within Imphal Valley. A total of 23,000 civilians have been rescued till now and moved to own military garrisons," it added.
The curfew in Churachandpur, where violence was first reported on May 3, was also relaxed for two hours from 3 pm to 5 pm on Saturday.
"With the law and order situation improving in Churachandpur district and after talks were held between the state government and various stakeholders, I'm pleased to share that the curfew will be partially relaxed as per the details shared below (sic)," Chief Minister N Biren Singh tweeted on Saturday night, sharing a copy of the notification.
Singh, after chairing an all-party meeting over the prevailing situation in the violence-hit state, said, "During the meeting, it was resolved to appeal for peace in the state, and encourage all citizens to avoid any actions that could lead to further violence or instability."
The meeting was attended by representatives of various political parties, including the Congress, CPI, JD(U), NPF, Shiv Sena, TMC, BSP, AAP, MPP, AIFB, MNDF, ABHKP, and former CM O Ibobi Singh.
"It was further resolved to form a peace committee in every assembly constituency to ensure that peace initiatives are implemented at the grassroots level," he tweeted.
Violence first erupted in Torbung area in Churachandpur district during the 'Tribal Solidarity March' organised by the All Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM) on May 3 to protest the demand of Meiteis for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
The march was organised by tribals -- including Nagas and Kukis -- after the Manipur High Court asked the state government last month to send a recommendation to the Centre within four weeks on the demand for ST status by the Meitei community.
During the march in Torbung, an armed mob allegedly attacked people of the Meitei community, leading to retaliatory attacks in the valley districts, which escalated the violence throughout the state, police said.