The Home Department of the Manipur government has asked the district magistrates to issue shoot-at-sight orders “in extreme cases whereby all forms of persuasion, warning, reasonable force, etc. had been exhausted under the provisions of law…”. The development comes amid violent clashes reported in various parts of the state.
On Tuesday, a curfew was imposed in a majority of the districts and mobile internet services were suspended in the entire state for five days following clashes during a mass rally organised by the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM).
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The rally was being held to protest against the demand for the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe category based on a directive by the Manipur High Court on April 19. The order resulted in old fissures resurfacing between the Meitei community and the hill tribes.
On Thursday, Chief Minister N Biren Singh issued a video message and said the violent clashes were a result of a “prevailing misunderstanding between two communities” and appealed to the people of the state to cooperate with the government to maintain law and order.
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“We are committed to protect the lives and property of all our people. Long-term grievances of different communities will also be suitably addressed in due course in consultation with the people and their representatives,” Singh said in his appeal.
The Indian Army on Wednesday carried out flag marches in areas hit by incidents of violence. “The columns of Army/AR with State police intervened to control the situation in the night. The violence was arrested by the morning. A number of villagers, approximately 4000, were given shelter in Army/AR COBs and state government premises at various places. Flag marches are being conducted to keep the situation under control,” the statement said, adding that military and paramilitary troops were deployed in the areas bordering Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts soon after the clashes broke out.
Meanwhile, Congress on Thursday hit out at the BJP and held the BJP’s “politics of hate” responsible for the clashes between the two communities. “Manipur is burning. BJP has created fissures among communities and destroyed the peace of a beautiful state,” Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said on Twitter.
“BJP’s politics of hate, division and its greed for power is responsible for this mess… We appeal to people from all sides to exercise restraint and give peace a chance,” he said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also said he was “deeply concerned about Manipur’s rapidly deteriorating law and order situation” and urged the Prime Minister to focus on restoring peace and normalcy.
“Deeply concerned about Manipur’s rapidly deteriorating law and order situation. The Prime Minister must focus on restoring peace and normalcy. I urge the people of Manipur to stay calm,” he tweeted.
Boxing medalist and former Rajya Sabha MP Mary Kom also appealed to the Centre to help control the situation in Manipur. “I am not feeling good about the situation In Manipur. Since last night the situation has deteriorated. I appeal (to the) State & Central Government to take steps for the situation & maintain peace & security in the state.”
“It is unfortunate that some people lost their family members in this violence. This situation must get normal at the earliest,” she said.
As per a defence spokesperson, the Indian Army and Assam Rifles were deployed at night and the forces, with the state police, were able to control the violence by morning.