Army eliminates rivals in Manipur by repossessing weapons to bring peace

Army eliminates rivals in Manipur by repossessing weapons to bring peace
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KEITHELMANBI: The army cordon advanced slowly as darkness closed in on the village of New Keithelmanbi, some 40 km from the capital Imphal, surrounded on all sides by dense forest. Army and Assam Rifles personnel who pounced on the village in Kangpokpi district on the edge of the Imphal valley on Friday were searching for weapons. “In recent days we have observed that communities are being attacked with firearms. In some cases they are killing people? This sudden appearance of weapons is delaying the entire peace process,” a senior army official told PTI.

In the surprise raid on the village of New Keithelmanbi, where this PTI correspondent accompanied the soldiers, a homemade pistol and a large quantity of explosives were recovered along with a BB gun and a pack of blank cartridges. Armed vigilante groups have been taking the law into their own hands in parts of Manipur, in the wake of earlier ethnic riots, thus complicating the peace process. At times, militant groups have joined the fray, creating an even more volatile cocktail of ethnic tension.

On condition of anonymity, the army official said that now they are concentrating on stopping those elements that threaten the return of normalcy to the state. “The Indian Army and Assam Rifles have decided to carry out surprise search operations in villages in different communities. We are not targeting any particular community.

“Our aim is to stop that individual in the whole village who is threatening the other community by carrying weapons. We are seizing those weapons and also arresting them,” said the official, who was sent to Manipur after violence broke out earlier this month. month. Speaking of the operations on Friday, the official said that the New Keithelmanbi village lies along National Highway-37, which is the only access road to Manipur at the moment.

“We received reports that the townspeople have firearms and explosives. Our main goal is to protect the road so that no adverse incidents happen. Around 250 trucks use this road every day, transporting essential supplies.” he conducted a surprise search and recovered explosives and an air pistol. However, the BB gun was returned to the village elders as it can be kept without a license,” he added.

When visiting the town, located on a hillock, the PTI correspondent saw bunkers and trenches that were built to prevent any attack from the opposing community. Empty cartridge packs were scattered near one of the bunkers. The path from the hill above the village was completely blocked by placing logs and bushes, although the entrance from the road was still open. The force also filmed the entire search operations exercise.

One woman, whose home was searched, alleged that security personnel came every other day and harassed her on behalf of the search operations. However, this was denied by army officials who said that the raids were carried out on the basis of intelligence information and that the squads that were dispatched included female Assam Rifles soldiers to ensure that the women whose houses are searched remain safe. .

Clashes broke out in Manipur after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organized in the hilly districts on May 3 to protest the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. The violence was preceded by tension over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, which had led to a series of minor riots.

The Meiteis make up around 53 percent of Manipur’s population and live mainly in the Imphal Valley. tribal? Nagas and Kukis? they constitute another 40% of the population and reside in the mountainous districts. Ethnic clashes claimed more than 70 lives and some 10,000 army and paramilitary personnel had to be deployed to restore normalcy in the northeastern state.


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