Uprooted electric poles, GI pipes converted into weapons in Manipur hills
Besides these guns, the arsenal of the warring group from the hills has other regular weapons like AK rifles and INSAS rifles
Guns fabricated from parts of uprooted electric poles or galvanized iron (GI) pipes formed a major chunk of arms seized by security forces during search operations to recover weapons looted from police armouries in Manipur, officials said.
Besides these guns, the arsenal of the warring group from the hills has other regular weapons like AK rifles and INSAS rifles, they said.
Officials in this town located in Kakching district in southern Manipur said on the condition of anonymity that the people of this hill community are traditionally hunters and have the ability to improvise and make deadly weapons.
Recently, in remote villages here as well as in neighbouring Churachandpur district, some electric poles were seen missing and water pipes uprooted.
These were enough indication that they have been used in making of arms that are used to fire at the other community during the clash, the officials said.
This community traditionally used swords, spears, bow and arrows. Later, they started using muzzle guns and bullets also known as 'Thihnang', the officials said.
The uprooted electric poles were used to manufacture indigenous cannon also known as 'pumpi' or 'bampi' filled with scrap iron and other metallic items which act as bullets or pellets. These are manufactured by village blacksmiths also known as 'Thih-Kheng Pa' who often render free service to defend their community, the officials said.
The hill community is also known for its techniques in guerilla warfare and often defend itself by carrying out sudden attacks of approaching people or ambushing them by rolling down huge stones in steep areas.
The electric pole converted 'bampi' is given an electric charge and is operated from a distance as the fear of the pipe or the electric pole bursting in the middle cannot be ruled out, the officials said.
Against the backdrop of ethnic clashes between the Meitei and Kuki communities that erupted on May 3, the security forces have been collaborating with civil authorities to contain the violence in the state that has claimed over 160 lives.
There was apprehension from the majority Meiti community that Kuki militants, who had made an agreement of cessation of violence in 2008 popularly known as Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement, had taken their weapons back in view of the ethnic clashes.
At least 25 Kuki groups have been bound by SoO and their cadres and leaders are lodged in designated camps. These cadres are identified by the state and central leadership. The arms and ammunition of these groups have been kept safe under a double-locking system.
During the clashes, a surprise check was done by police and army and it was found that only two weapons were missing, the officials said.