Manipur’s Imphal Valley, which remained peaceful for most of Friday, witnessed sporadic clashes later in the day as more security forces arrived by road and air from other states to pacify the state, which has been witnessing bloody ethnic groups riots in the last 48 hours.
A defense spokesman said a total of 13,000 people were rescued and moved to safe shelters, some in army camps, as the army brought Churachandpur, Moreh, Kakching and Kangpokpi districts under its “firm control”.
Intermittent gunfights between militant groups and security forces were also reported from various hill districts around the valley in the morning, but cautious peace seems to have prevailed there since then.
“Over the past 12 hours, Imphal East and West districts have witnessed sporadic incidents of arson and attempts by enemy elements to create a blockade. However, a firm and synergistic response controlled the situation,” a defense official said on Friday evening.
Gunfights between militant groups engaged in ethnic clashes in the state and security forces were reported in Kangvai in Churachandpur district, Phougakchao western range in adjoining Bishnupur district and Dolaithabi and Pukhao in Imphal East district, a senior police officer said.
Nearly 10,000 troops from the army and the Assam Rifles have been deployed in the state, which has been rocked since Wednesday by clashes between the Meitei community, who live mainly in the Imphal Valley, and the Naga and Kuki tribes, who live in the hill areas.
“A total of approximately 13,000 civilians have been rescued and are currently residing in various ad-hoc embarkation facilities specially created for this purpose within corporate operational bases and military garrisons,” a defense official said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed the situation in Manipur with Chief Minister N Biren Singh and top officials, even as the Center deployed additional security forces and anti-riot vehicles to maintain peace there.
About 1,000 more central paramilitary personnel with anti-riot vehicles arrived in Manipur on Friday, sources said.
At least five officers of the rank of Deputy Inspector General (DIG) and seven Senior Superintendents of Police (SSP) and SP officers of the CRPF have been tasked to coordinate the deployment of various security forces in violence-hit Manipur, official sources in Delhi said.
Multiple sources reported that fighting between communities left several dozen dead and nearly a hundred injured. However, the police did not want to confirm this.
Trains to Manipur have been canceled with immediate effect on Friday due to the prevailing situation in the state, a spokesperson of the North East Frontier Railway (NFR) said.
The Defense PRO in a statement earlier said, “The Indian Air Force (IAF) has been conducting non-stop combat sorties from two airfields in Assam using C17 Globemaster and AN 32 aircraft. “The induction began on the night of May 4 and additional convoys commenced the dominance with effect from in the morning hours of May 5. Supremacy and evacuation of civilians of all communities from the affected areas continued throughout the night. A flag march is currently underway in Churachandpur and other sensitive areas,” it added.
Violence first erupted in Torbung area of Churachandpur district during the ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ organized by the All Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM) on Wednesday to protest the Meiteis’ demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
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