Miscreants torched houses and attacked people, including women and children, in different areas adjoining the Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts of Manipur on May 3.
Speaking to Organiser Weekly, a local of Torbung informed that an armed group of people vandalised and torched around six houses belonging to Meitei Hindu till May 3 at 6 PM.
The miscreants were armed with sophisticated weapons and fired multiple bullets while vandalising the houses.
Panickly stricken people left their homes and took shelter in nearby Hindu-dominated areas like Saiton, Moirang, Ningthoukhong, Bishnupur and the Imphal capital.
The motive behind the attack on Hindus is unknown. Still, there is an apprehension of involving suspected Kuki militants in the violence, another resident of Torbung informed over the phone on condition of anonymity.
To control the situation, the State Government suspended mobile internet services in Manipur from May 3, evening and clamped Section 144 of the CrPC in eight districts in the state.
It may be mentioned here that the violent incidents occurred following a ‘Solidarity Rally’ organised by various tribal bodies of Manipur on May 3 against the demand for the inclusion of Hindus in the ST category.
“Demand for Meitei/Meetei community for inclusion for Scheduled Tribes (ST), category gaining momentum and valley legislators openly endorsing to the demand, various tribal organisations including apex organisation, students’ organisation and tribal public of the State have been raising objection to the demand,” said an office memorandum of All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM).
The office memorandum of ATSUM also appealed to all the bodies concerning the hill areas, including Church leaders.
In response to the call by ATSUM, The Tribal Churches Leaders Forum (TCLF), Manipur, in its meeting held on May 1, 2023, unanimously resolved to endorse the ‘Solidary March’ of ATSUM.
“This solidarity March organised by the ATSUM is to collectively protect the social, political and religious interests of the tribal people of Manipur,” said a press release by TCLF, Manipur.
Affected Hindus, around 4000 in number, took shelter at nearby Indian Army and para-Military camps for their lives.
After the State Government’s request, Army/Assam Rifles have deployed at Christian and tribal-dominated areas of Churachandpur. “Actions to evacuate maximum people to safer areas and restore law and order underway,” the Indian Army said in a statement.
Meanwhile, security forces took out a flag march calling for peaceful negotiation with the warring tribal goons purportedly backed by Kuki and Zou militant outfits.