Manipur: Curfew relaxed in twin districts of Imphal for 7 hours, mob loots weapons from police armoury

Imphal: Mass burial programme by tribals sparks fresh tension in strife-torn state

BY | Friday, 4 August, 2023

The Manipur government relaxed the curfew in Imphal East and West districts for seven hours from 5 am on Friday to facilitate common people to purchase essential items, officials said.

Following fresh violence in various parts of the ethnic strife-torn state, the administration had on Thursday imposed a total curfew in the two districts as a precautionary measure, withdrawing relaxations announced earlier.

The curfew was relaxed on Friday from 5 am to 12 pm “to facilitate the general public to purchase essential commodities, including medicines and food items”, according to orders issued by districts magistrates of Imphal East and West.

Over 25 people were injured in clashes as Army and RAF personnel fired tear gas shells in Kangvai and Phougakchao areas in Bishnupur district on Thursday to stop processions from proceeding to a proposed burial site, violating restrictions on gatherings.

A Manipur Rifles policeman was killed and one person injured in a gunfight at Senjam Chirang in Imphal West district on Thursday morning, police said.

In another development, a mob looted arms and ammunition from the 2nd Indian Reserve Battalion outpost at Naransena in Bishnupur, official sources said.

A mob comprising the majority community broke into a police armoury and stole weapons, including AK and ‘Ghatak’ series of assault rifles, and over 19,000 bullets of various calibres, officials said.

The incident took place at the battalion headquarters of the 2nd India Reserve Battalion (IRB) located at Naranseina in Bishnupur district. A crowd had gathered there to march towards Churachandpur where tribals were planning to carry out a mass burial of their people killed in ethnic clashes that broke out in the state on May 3, they said.

More than 19,000 rounds of bullets of different calibres, an AK series assault rifle, three ‘Ghaatak’ rifles, 195 self-loading rifles, five MP-5 guns, 16 9mm pistols, 25 bulletproof jackets, 21 carbines, 124 hand grenades among others were looted by the mob, officials said.

The mass burial programme by the tribals had sparked fresh tension in the strife-torn state with the majority community opposing the move.

The majority community had also attempted to loot two other armouries located in the state capital but the attempts were foiled.

The Manipur High Court, in an extraordinary hearing held on Thursday morning, had stayed the proposed mass burial even though the Kuki community claimed that they had postponed the programme after discussions with the Union home ministry.

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