Army called in as Manipur grapples with violent protests

Imphal: The Army held a flag march in violence-hit areas in Manipur amid an ongoing protest by tribal groups over a court order on scheduled tribe status. Curfew was imposed in eight districts of Manipur on May 3 night after violence erupted in Imphal, Churachandpur and Kangpokpi. The Manipur government has suspended mobile internet in the state.

Army and Assam Rifles were called in to contain the escalating violence. A flag march was held today by the Army and Assam Rifles to keep the situation under control. More than 7,500 people were given shelter in army camps and government office premises in various areas of the state following the violence.

“Indian Army and Assam Rifles undertook major rescue operations to evacuate more than 7,500 civilians of all communities relentlessly throughout the night to restore law and order in Manipur.  The Indian Army remains committed to the well-being and safety of the population of Manipur,” the army said in a statement.

The All Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM) called a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ in Torbung area of Churachandpur district on May 3 to protest against the non-tribal Meiteis community’s demand for a Scheduled tribe status. According to the police, thousands took part in the rally during which violence broke out between tribals and non-tribals.

The Meitei community makes up 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and primarily inhabit the Manipur valley. The Meitei’s claim that they are facing difficulty in view of “large-scale illegal immigration by Myanmarese and Bangladeshis”. As per existing law, the Meiteies are not allowed to settle in the hill areas of the state.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke with Chief Minister N Biren Singh to discuss the violence that followed the protests. In view of the volatile situation in the state, curfew has been imposed in non-tribal dominated Imphal West, Kakching, Thoubal, Jiribam and Bishnupur districts and tribal-dominated Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal districts.

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