A Manipur Police officer was shot dead by suspected Kuki militants in the state’s Moreh town bordering Myanmar, the state government said on Tuesday.

Sub Divisional Police Officer Chingtham Anand was shot dead while he was on duty overseeing the cleaning of a school ground for the construction of a helipad, the state government said in a press release.

The bullet wound that Anand sustained suggested that he may have been shot with a large-calibre marksman or sniper rifle from a distance, an unidentified police officer in Moreh told NDTV.

The attack comes as the state continues to reel from the ethnic violence between the Kukis and the Meiteis that broke out on May 3. The violence ensued after thousands of people had participated in a protest march to oppose the Meitei community’s demand for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribes list.

Over 200 people have been killed in the state in the ethnic conflict and nearly 60,000 persons have been forced to flee their homes.

On Tuesday Chief Minister N Biren Singh said that the perpetrators of the police officer’s killing will be brought to justice. “Deeply saddened by the cold-blooded killing of SDPO Chingtham Anand, OC Moreh Police this morning,” he said in a tweet. “His dedication to serve and protect the people will always be remembered.”

The state government also announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 50 lakh for Anand’s family “considering the special duty in a special area”. A government job will also be provided to the police officer’s next of kin.

At a state Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government ordered a joint operation in Moreh and adjoining areas to trace those responsible for Anand’s killing. It added that additional state forces would be sent to the town from Imphal.

In the wake of the police officer’s killing, the state Cabinet also decided to recommend to the Centre that the World Kuki-Zo Intellectual Council be declared as an unlawful organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

It noted that on October 24, the council said in a press release that the Kuki-Zo community would “face another war” in November and that in view of this, arms and ammunition should be kept ready “in sufficient stock”.

Alarming disparity in state government’s approach, says tribal group

Commenting on the Manipur government’s response to Anand’s killing, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum, or ITLF – a group representing the Kuki-Zo people of the state – said that there was an “alarming disparity” in the way state authorities were treating citizens based on their ethnic identities.

The ITLF referred to the killing of a Kuki police sub-inspector named Onkhomang Haokip in September, and said that the government’s indifference to his death was palpable. The group had alleged that Haokip was killed in a sniper attack by Meitei militants.

The tribal group said that Chief Minister Singh’s response to Anand’s killing was “swift and telling”, in contrast to how the state government responded to Haokip’s death. It claimed that Manipur Police officials and Meitei insurgents have now begun attacking Kuki-Zo villages around Moreh.

“The glaring contrast between these two incidents highlights the appalling selective injustice that has become disturbingly routine in Manipur,” the ITLF said.