The ban on internet services was extended across Manipur till May 26 to maintain peace and order in the violence-hit state, an official said on Sunday, IANS reported. Manipur Commissioner (Home) H Gyan Prakash said in a notification that the decision was taken in view of reports of arson.

The internet was first suspended in the North Eastern state on May 3 when violence broke out after thousands participated in a protest march organised by the All Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur to oppose the demand of the Meitei community to be included in the Scheduled Tribe category.

The protestors included the Kukis, one of the larger tribal communities in Manipur. They have been at odds with the state government, and, in particular, Chief Minister N Biren Singh who the community claims harbours Meitei “majoritarian” sentiments. The clashes have left at least 73 persons dead and over 35,000 displaced.

On Monday, the Imphal East district administration shortened the curfew relaxation period to 5 am to 1 pm. The curfew relaxation period was earlier from 5 am to 4 pm. The restriction on movement was imposed on May 22.

Visuals from ANI showed an abandoned home set ablaze by unidentified people in Imphal’s New Lambulane area on Monday. State Security Advisor Kuldiep Singh said that a group of persons set one building ablaze, but the fire spread to three other buildings due to strong winds.

The homes were partially burned by the time police and fire brigade personnel reached the area. Singh said that the police will carry out raids and arrest the culprits. “We will not allow this kind of hooliganism to go on,” he said.

Around 4,747 school students are currently taking shelter at refugee camps set up across the state, said Education Minister Th Bashanta Singh, reported The Indian Express.

The unrest has caused widespread damage in the state. More than 1,700 buildings, including churches and temples, have been burnt down.

Besides the demand of the Meitei community, the Bharatiya Janata Party government’s drives against alleged encroachment on forest lands and poppy cultivation in the hill areas are also considered to be important reasons that have led to the violence.

On Sunday, N Biren Singh said that it was time to move on from the violence and appealed to residents to bring normalcy in the state. He urged them “to blame the government and not communities”, reported The Print.

When asked about the drives against alleged encroachment, the chief minister said, “What’s gone is gone. Our mission now is to restore normalcy in the state. There was no fight between the communities in Manipur and there should not be any fight.”

The chief minister also said that he will reach out to the 10 Kuki MLAs, including seven from the BJP, who have demanded a separate administration for their community, reported The Hindu.

“The Kuki MLAs are a part of our family,” he added. “Manipur is a small but unique state with 34-35 recognised tribes, including the Kukis. We are all brothers and sisters.”

The chief minister said that the situation in the state is now returning to normal except for “some small incidents happening at different places”.

The May 3 protest erupted against an order passed by the Manipur High Court directing the state government to consider petitions of the Meiteis to be included in the Scheduled Tribe category.

The Meiteis account for 60% of the state’s population and are largely concentrated in the Imphal Valley. The community claims that it faces difficulties due to large-scale illegal immigration by Myanmarese and Bangladeshi nationals. The Meitis are not allowed to settle in the state’s hilly areas as per laws.

On the other hand, some tribal communities fear that Meiteis will take over their land if they are given Scheduled Tribe status.

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