New Delhi: Conflict-hit Manipur saw fresh violence on Tuesday (September 12) morning, when three people from the Kuki-Zo community were shot dead in Kangpopki district. The incident is said to have taken place around 7 am, and the deceased were identified as Satneo Tuboi (37) and Ngamminlun Lhouvum (30) from Kangchup Ponlen village, and Ngamminlun Kipgen (32) from Lhangkichoi village, The Indian Express reported.
The violence occurred near Ireng Naga village in Kuki-Zomi-dominated Kangpokpi district, a few kilometres away from its boundary with Meitei-dominated Imphal West district.
“The three people were travelling from Ponlen in a vehicle that was fired upon near Ireng Naga. It is assessed that the attack was carried out by multiple people. Central security forces that were stationed at a distance heard the gunshots and arrived at the location, by which time the attackers had left,” a security official told The Indian Express.
The official also said that the attack appears to have been orchestrated by “trained people”, since it likely involved crossing the buffer zone that security forces have been maintaining between Meitei-dominated and Kuki-dominated areas.
James Hangmi, a resident of Kangchup Ponlen, told The Indian Express that the three were travelling together to seek medical treatment in Kangpokpi for Ngamminlun Lhouvum, who had developed a high fever.
“They were going only because his fever was very high. They were travelling along a kacha road in the hills, which was created after the violence started so that people from our area can travel to Kangpokpi and people can travel between Kangpokpi and Churachandpur without crossing through the valley. So, it is very shocking that they could be attacked there. This is the only route through which food supplies reach our area from Kangpokpi,” Hangmi said.
The fact that the incident occurred while residents were seeking medical care reiterates findings made by a team of doctors who visited Manipur and relief camps set up there recently – that the healthcare system in the state is reeling because of the conflict, and this may lead to long-term consequences.
Manipur has been witnessing an intense ethnic conflict since May 3. Around 200 people have lost their lives and tens of thousands have been displaced from their home. Ethnic divisions have become extremely stark, with both communities no longer inhabiting the same areas.