Curfew eased in 11 districts as Manipur stares at recovery; 60 dead, 30,000 displaced
A total of 128 columns of the Indian Army and Assam Rifles continued flag marches in the affected areas and undertook round-the-clock aerial surveillance.
Life in the northeastern state of Manipur continued to limp back to normal as curfew was relaxed in 11 districts, including Imphal West, Bishnupur, Churachandpur and Jiribam, for six hours from 5 am, as no fresh incident of violence was reported, officials said on Wednesday.
At least 60 people have been killed and over 30,000 people have been rendered homeless, of whom 26,000 have been evacuated to safer places outside their districts, while 4,000 remained in relief camps closer to their homes, Information and Public Relations Minister Sapam Ranjan Singh said.
A total of 128 columns of the Indian Army and Assam Rifles continued flag marches in the affected areas and undertook round-the-clock aerial surveillance using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
"The Indian Army along with Assam Rifles have significantly re-engineered the security architecture and numerous resources have been infused in Manipur especially in the backdrop of prevailing security situation in which normalcy has now commenced to show visible manifestation and people are now returning to their homes and reunification of stranded people with their loved ones has commenced," a statement issued by the Defence PRO on Wednesday said.
"The Indian Army is leaving no stones unturned to undertake surveillance of areas not only in hinterland but also along the India-Myanmar Border. Round-the-clock surveillance through Unmanned Aerial Vehicles with specific tasking, employment of MI 17 and Cheetah helicopters of Indian Air Force and Army and numerous foot patrols and flag marches to restore confidence of locals on ground are being resorted to," it said.
Violent clashes broke out in the northeastern state after a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the 10 hill districts on May 3 to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
The clashes were preceded by tension over eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, which had led to a series of smaller agitations.
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 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.
The army also urged people not to fall for "malicious attempts to disturb harmony through manipulated interpretation or misrepresentation of facts" as "inimical elements may once again attempt to spread malicious unverified content".
"As Manipur slowly rises up to the peace and tranquil atmosphere amongst all communities hitherto fore, inimical elements may once again attempt to spread malicious unverified content. Indian Army and Assam Rifles remain committed to restoring complete normalcy at the earliest and would request all to disregard any malicious attempt to disturb harmony in the region through manipulated interpretation or misrepresentation of facts," the statement added.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh had on Monday said that 60 people were killed, 231 injured and 1,700 houses including religious places burnt in the ethnic violence that rocked the northeastern state for the past few days.