New Delhi: Heavy firing between an armed Meitei mob numbering over 3,000 and the Manipur Rifles has been reported in the heart of Imphal city on Wednesday evening.
As per witness reports, the armed mob consists of members of the Meitei right-wing group Arambai Tenggol. The Wire couldn’t independently confirm this claim.
Locals said the mob gathered at the palace compound of Leishemba Sanajaoba, the BJP Rajya Sabha MP and a member of the Manipur royal family, in the afternoon. Several were armed, they claimed.
“Around 6:25 pm, the mob barged into the Manipur Rifles premises situated close to the Kangla Fort. What we heard is they did this because they wanted to seize arms. As we talk now, heavy firing is going on and reports of some killings have also come though, but we can’t confirm it. What we have heard is, more Manipur Rifles stations have been targeted too to loot arms,” an eyewitness told The Wire from Imphal.
NDTV reported that the Manipur Police fired several rounds in the air on Wednesday to disperse a mob that surrounded a police station near the Chief Minister’s office in Imphal.
The Arambai Tenggol, said to be close to Sanajaoba, has been accused of carrying out several attacks on the Kuki community in Imphal during the ethnic clashes that began in May. The immediate trigger for Tuesday evening’s mob attack on state police stations is said to be the killing of a police officer from the Meitei community, allegedly by Kuki militants a day ago in Tengnoupal district.
At a rally held a month ago, members of Arambai Tenggol gathered at the Kangla fort and pledged to “protect” Manipur.
A cabinet meeting held in Imphal on Tuesday said the officer of SDPO rank belonged to Imphal’s Marak Chingtham Leikai and was shot in the abdomen by Kuki militants “in unprovoked firing” in the Tengnoupal district’s Moreh town. Two other Manipur police officers have also been injured in a separate attack, also allegedly by Kuki militants, in the same district, hours after the SDPO’s killing.
The district magistrate of Imphal East cancelled the earlier announced curfew relaxation in the district in an order passed at 6:15 pm. The curfew relaxation was supposed to be from 5 am to 10 pm.
In response to the additional security deployed in Moreh, the Kuki Students’ Organisation has called for a complete 48-shutdown in Kuki-Zo areas starting midnight of November 1. The KSO has stated that home minister Amit Shah had promised that security deployment in the area would be removed after his visit, but instead it has only increased.
In the ongoing violence in Manipur, the state police force has been accused by the Kukis of supporting the Meitei mobs.
The Wire has tried contacting the office of security adviser Kuldiep Singh for more information but was unable to get across.