The Manipur Police on Saturday detained three security officials, including one of an inspector rank, belonging to the 103 battalion of the Rapid Action Force for allegedly trying to set fire to a meat shop in Imphal’s New Checkon area.
The men – identified as Kuldip Singh, Pradip Kumar and Somdev Araya – were deployed to the area in view of the violence that has gripped the state. The incident took place two days after fresh violence was reported in the northeastern state on Wednesday.
The shop is owned by a Muslim man named Tanish Malik and located on the ground floor of a building owned by a member of the Naga community.
“I checked the footage of the CCTV camera installed next door,” Malik told Scroll. “We saw three men getting out of a white gypsy. The men proceeded to collect a jute sack from the shop next door, set it on fire and placed it on a table outside my shop.”
The officials have been suspended by their unit, a senior police officer told Scroll. He added: “They were drunk and have apologised”.
The men are being detained at the Porampat police station. On Saturday afternoon, several local Meitei women staged a protest outside the police station, demanding strict action against them.
“These people are not here to save us but make things worse,” a woman told Scroll. “Can you imagine doing something like this in times like these?”
Several incidents of violence have been reported from the northeastern state since May 3 after thousands participated in a protest march organised by the All Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur to oppose the demand of the majority 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, the chief minister who the community claims harbours Meitei “majoritarian” sentiments. The clashes have left at least 74 persons dead and over 35,000 displaced.
On Thursday, a mob, largely led members of the Meitei community, had attacked the home of Union minister of State for External Affairs and Education RK Ranjan Singh to express their anger against Wednesday’s unrest. The Union minister also belongs to the Meitei community.