Curfew relaxed for 6 hours in 11 Manipur districts; no fresh violence reported

Indian Army and Assam Rifles continue flag marches, round-the-clock aerial surveillance using UAVs in affected areas

Manipur violence
The Army on Wednesday released a series of pictures showing how its personnel are holding door-to-door interaction with the Meiteis and Kukis to broker peace | Pic: Indian Army via ANI/Twitter

Curfew was relaxed for six hours in 11 districts of Manipur on Wednesday (May 10) as the violence-torn state continued to limp back to normalcy. Districts like Imphal West, Bishnupur, Churachandpur, and Jiribam had the curfew lifted from 5 am, as no fresh incidents were reported, officials said.

At least 60 people have been killed in the north-eastern state since violence broke out a week ago, Information and Public Relations Minister Sapam Ranjan Singh said. Over 30,000 people have lost their homes. Of them, 26,000 have been evacuated to safety outside their districts, while 4,000 remain in relief camps close to their homes, Singh added.

On Wednesday, too, 128 columns of the Indian Army and Assam Rifles continued flag marches in the affected areas and undertook round-the-clock aerial surveillance using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Watch: Manipur violence: Curfew relaxed in Imphal for a few hours; state returning to normalcy

Defence statement

“The Indian Army, along with Assam Rifles, has significantly re-engineered the security architecture, and numerous resources have been infused into Manipur, especially in the backdrop of prevailing security situation in which normalcy has now commenced to show visible manifestation and people are now returning to their homes and reunification of stranded people with their loved ones has commenced,” said a statement issued by the Defence PRO on Wednesday.

“The Indian Army is leaving no stone unturned to undertake surveillance of areas not only in the hinterland but also along the India-Myanmar Border. Round-the-clock surveillance through Unmanned Aerial Vehicles with specific tasking, employment of MI 17 and Cheetah helicopters of the Indian Air Force and the Army, and numerous foot patrols and flag marches to restore confidence of locals on ground are being resorted to,” it said.

Also read: Manipur violence: Army drones, helicopters on watch; 23,000 people moved to camps

What happened in Manipur

Violent clashes broke out in Manipur on May 3 after a Tribal Solidarity March was organised in the 10 hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. The clashes were preceded by tension over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, which had led to a series of smaller agitations.

Meiteis account for about 53% of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals — Nagas and Kukis — constitute another 40% of the population and reside in the hill districts.

The army also urged people not to fall for “malicious attempts to disturb harmony through manipulated interpretation or misrepresentation of facts” as “inimical elements may once again attempt to spread malicious unverified content”.

Also read: Manipur: Group claims Meitei community houses set ablaze in Churachandpur, Moreh

“As Manipur slowly rises to the peace and tranquil atmosphere among all communities hitherto fore, inimical elements may once again attempt to spread malicious unverified content. Indian Army and Assam Rifles remain committed to restoring complete normalcy at the earliest and would request all to disregard any malicious attempt to disturb harmony in the region through manipulated interpretation or misrepresentation of facts,” the defence statement added.

Chief Minister N Biren Singh said on Monday that 60 people were killed, 231 injured, and 1,700 houses, including religious places, burnt in the ethnic violence.

(With agency inputs)