New Delhi: Two days after an 11-minute assembly session in Manipur, during which chief minister N. Biren Singh moved an obituary reference and proposed a two-minute silence to honour those killed in the violence, six people – four from the Kuki community and two from the Meitei community – fell victim to crossfire in the state.
This firing is currently occurring in Churachandpur and Moirang, which are predominantly Kuki and Meitei areas respectively.
The two Meitei victims have been identified as Pebam Deban Singh (50) and Moirangthem Ropen Singh (48), while the four who lost their lives in Churachandpur are L.S. Mangboi (42), Richard Hemkholun (31), Paokam Kipgen, and Pausondam.
The situation in Manipur has remained tense since Tuesday (August 29), with firing persisting since then.
Nasir Khan, a resident of Kwakta, which is located 8 kilometres away from the conflict zone, described the situation thus: “I can hear the sounds of bomb blasts even though I’m eight kilometres from the location. Imagine the situation for those where the fighting is ongoing.”
Villages affected by the firing include Naranseina, Thamnapokpi, and Ngangkha Leikai in the valley, as well as Kangathei and the foothills of Khorentak in the hill areas.
Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum spokesperson Ginza Vualzong informed The Wire that Mangboi and Hemkholun died due to bombings, while Kipgen lost his life in crossfire.
Additionally, sources from the Bishnupur police in the valley confirmed that one of the deceased individuals in that region had also perished due to bombing.
The Wire’s analysis indicates that Moirang is situated a bit further from the border area between Churachandpur and Bishnupur districts – where the gunfight began – and if the situation remains tense in such regions, it could pose dangers to both communities.
As firing continues, residents are strongly advised to remain indoors until the situation improves.
Hindustan Times reported that the firing began on Tuesday following the shooting of a 26-year-old farmer, Salam Jotin Singh, who lives in Naranseina.
Two jawans from the India Reserve Battalion, who had been deployed to the area following the firing, were also injured in the gunfight.
Such exchange of fire has routinely occurred in places at the borders between Kuki and Meitei-dominated areas ever since ethnic conflict began between the two communities in early May. The violence has resulted in their near-total segregation.
Complete shutdowns are now in effect in both Churachandpur and Bishnupur districts, with the exception of emergency services such as medical, police, water, electricity, and press activities.
On August 29, The Wire had reported the killing of two people in the firing, one from each community. In the span of 15 days, Manipur has now witnessed a total of 13 deaths.
Details of people injured on August 31:
1. Khamthang (37) of Molnom village
Splinter injury to right leg
2. Lunkhohao (53) of Tuingamjang village
Splinter injury to right foot
3. Thangliensang (35) of Molnom village
Splinter injury to right hand
4. Gouminlen (12) of Nahlon village
Splinter injury to left hand
5. Muanthang (52) of Kangvai village
6. Pausawndam (35) of Kangvai village
7. Lamminlal (36) of Kangvai village
All residents of Churachandpur district.