The Manipur Police on Sunday refuted media reports claiming that 17 girls have been kidnapped by unidentified miscreants in Bishnupur.

Superintendent of Police K Meghachandra said that three school girls fabricated the story before the police as they had skipped their classes.

Meghachandra said the three students had claimed that they were kidnapped along with 17 other children by two persons wearing masks from Kabowakching on the pretext of going to a picnic. The girls had claimed that they had escaped after jumping out of the vehicle of the kidnappers.

“However, there was inconsistency in their statements,” Meghachandra said. “So proper verification was done by following due formalities. And it is established that their story was fabricated as they skipped their class.”

The alleged story about the kidnapping had gained traction and “spread like wildfire” in the violence-hit state after it was carried by some media organisations, reported The Imphal Times. Several people had gathered at the Nambol Police Station to seek clarity on the situation.

At least 190 people have been killed and nearly 60,000 have been forced to flee their homes since clashes broke out between the Kuki and Meitei communities in the Northeastern state on May 3. The state has reported cases of rape and murder, and mobs have looted police armoury and set several homes on fire despite the heavy presence of central security forces.

Opposition parties have blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre and the state government for failing to control the violence.