Four persons, including a Border Security Force jawan, were killed and six others were injured in two separate incidents of gunfights in Manipur as fresh violence erupted in the state on Monday.
The BSF jawan was shot dead during a gunfight between insurgents and security forces in Serou village of Thoubal district on Monday night. Two jawans of the Assam Rifles were also injured.
“Intermittent firing between the security forces and a group of insurgents took place throughout the night of June 5 and 6,” the Spear Corps of the Indian Army said in a statement. “Security Forces effectively retaliated to the fire.”
In another incident, three persons were killed and four others injured in a gunfight between two armed groups in Imphal West district, PTI reported.
The incident took place in the Kangchup area of the district, according to the police The gunfight began around 4 am and continued till 10.30 am, according to the Imphal Free Press. Those who died have been identified as Angom Romesh, Angom Rakesh and Pukhrambam Nikhil.
The northeastern state has witnessed ethnic clashes between Meiteis and Kukis since May 3 that have left more than 100 persons dead, over 300 injured and thousands displaced.
The violence in Imphal’s West districts comes on a day when a mob torched an ambulance in the Iroisemba area, leading to multiple deaths. The exact number of fatalities is not yet known.
“We don’t know how many people died because it [the ambulance] was completely burnt down and all we could recover was a couple of bones,” a police officer had said.
Meanwhile, the ban on internet services has been extended till 3 pm of June 10, an order issued by Commissioner (Home) H Gyan Prakash said, reported PTI. The ban was first imposed on May 3.
Violence in Manipur first broke out last month after thousands of people participated in a protest march to oppose the demand of the Meiteis to be included in the Scheduled Tribes category.
The protestors included the Kukis, one of the larger tribal communities in Manipur. For months now, they have been at loggerheads with the state government, and, in particular with Chief Minister N Biren Singh, who the community claims harbours Meitei “majoritarian” sentiments.
On Sunday, the Centre appointed a three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court Ajai Lamba to investigate the violence. Besides Lamba, the committee comprises retired Indian Administrative Services officer Himanshu Shekhar Das, and retired Indian Police Service officer Aloka Prabhakar.
Manipur BJP calls for removal of Assam Rifles
The Manipur unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remove all troops of the Assam Rifles paramilitary force deployed in the state.
In the letter, state vice-president Ch Chidananda said that while the Assam Rifles have “apparently not [been] performing their duty sincerely as expected.”
On Friday, a standoff was reported between the Assam Rifles and the Manipur Police in Sugnu, according to The Times of India. Troops of the Assam Rifles had surrounded the Sugnu police station and blocked its entrance by parking two bullet-proof vehicles without informing the police. Both sides were on the verge of physical confrontation to the extent of pointing guns at each other, the newspaper reported.
“As a result of their [Assam Rifles], people have lost faith in them and protesting against their unethical actions,” Singh said in his letter to the prime minister. “All highways are blocked to stop them. It is a matter of concern that people might lose trust in other Central forces also because of the action of the Assam Rifles.”