Homes belonging to members of the Hmar-Kuki-Zomi tribal community in Manipur’s Jiribam district was set on fire on Thursday by unidentified persons suspected to be Meiteis, an Assam Rifles official told Scroll.

The official said that a shop and two houses in the Naga locality near the bungalow of the Jiribam superintendent of police were torched, in addition to a house on the outskirts of the Jiribam town. The house belonged to a Meitei person who is married to a woman from the Hmar community.

According to the official, petrol bombs were used to set the homes ablaze.

Since June 6, when a Meitei man was found murdered, around 120 houses, belonging to both the Meitei and Hmar-Kuki-Zomi communities, have been torched in the district. The Meiteis accuse Kukis of killing 59-year-old Soibam Sarat Kumar Singh.

The Indigenous Tribes Advocacy Committee, a tribal rights group, has alleged the involvement of the Meitei armed group Arambai Tenggol in the arson on Thursday.

“ITAC demands from the authorities who are in charge of law and order to immediately arrest the perpetrators and punish them appropriately as per law,” the group said. It also sought round-the-clock security arrangements for Jiribam on account of the violence.

Violence was first reported in the district on June 6 after the body of the Meitei man was found in Mulargaon area. This prompted authorities to issue prohibitory orders, banning the assembly of five or more people in the district under 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to restore law and order.

Despite that, there were reports of mobs setting three to four abandoned Kuki homes on fire. A mob also allegedly surrounded the Jiribam police station and demanded that the police return licensed guns that had been temporarily taken away on account of the Lok Sabha election.

Jiribam, which has a mixed population of Meiteis and tribal communities, had been relatively peaceful amid the ethnic conflict in the rest of the state.

Violence between Manipur’s Meitei and Kuki communities has left at least 225 persons dead and displaced 60,000 people from their homes since the beginning of the clashes in May 2023.