Fri. May 24th, 2024

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Curfew Called Off In 5 Manipur Districts, Relaxed For Few Hours In Others

New Delhi:

Curfew has been removed from five Manipur districts and relaxed in other areas, a day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced a peace plan for the violence-hit northeastern state.

After the Home Minister’s warning, 140 weapons have been surrendered in Manipur, said the state’s police. As many as 2,000 weapons were looted from the police armoury after ethnic violence erupted a month ago.

Amit Shah, who met with several groups during a four-day visit to Manipur, warned on Thursday of strict action against those who did not surrender arms. He also announced a probe into the violence and a peace committee as part of a plan to restore stability in the state

In the last 24 hours, 140 weapons were surrendered in different districts of Manipur, said the police.

The weapons include AK-47s, INSAS Rifles, teargas, sten guns, a grenade launcher and a range of pistols.

“These are all service pattern weapons and are prohibited,” said a senior police officer.

The Home Minister had warned that security forces would begin searches for weapons.

He also asked militant groups to follow the rules of Suspension of Operations or SOO. “If rules are broken then action will follow,” he had stated.

The Centre signed the suspension pact with two Kuki groups in 2008 – the United People’s Front (UPF) and Kuki National Organisation. Groups affiliated to these two groups – 24 of them – had entered into an SOO pact with the Centre.

“The cadre strength of these groups is about 2,200. They had signed a pact but had not surrendered their weapons,” an official said.

Yesterday, Amit Shah also announced a probe into the violence and a peace committee as part of a plan to restore stability in the state.

A panel led by a retired Chief Justice will probe the ethnic violence. The peace committee, headed by the Governor, will include security advisor Kuldeep Singh and members of the civil society.

The ethnic violence first broke out after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill 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 smaller agitations.

The state witnessed a sudden spurt in clashes and firing between insurgents and security forces on Sunday, after a relative lull for over a fortnight.

With the state government unable to control the situation even after a month, members from the Kuki-Hmar-Zomi-Mizo tribes on Wednesday held a protest demanding that the Chief Minister be sacked and President’s rule implemented in the state.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals — Nagas and Kukis — constitute another 40 percent of the population and reside in the hill districts. So far, over 80 people have been killed in the violence, according to officials.

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