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The South Asian Insider

'Situation critical': Manipur tense again as 8 killed, explosives recovered

At least eight persons were killed, while 18 others were injured in Manipur's Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts following continuous gunbattle between Kukis and Meiteis since August 29. Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was called in areas of Churachandpur on August 31. (Sai Buearu) Violence continued in the foothills of Manipur on Thursday, officials told news agency PTI, adding, that at least eight people were killed, while 18 others were injured in Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts following continuous gunbattle between Kukis and Meiteis, since August 29. Chief Minister N Biren Singh termed the situation as "critical" and asked the general public to maintain calm. Meanwhile, fresh firing was also reported from adjoining Chingphei and Khousabung areas in the Churachandpur district.
According to the details, on August 29 erupted after a 30-year-old village volunteer was killed following heavy firing in the Khoirentak area.
Another person died when a country-made gun he was using misfired and hit him on his face near Narainsena village in Bishnupur on the same day, officials said.
" On Thursday, a series of search operations by security personnel in vulnerable areas of Churachandpur and Imphal West districts led to the recovery of a cache of 20 explosive devices (commonly known as pipe bombs), 3 firearms, 20 rounds of ammunition and approximately 30 grams of gunpowder.
" The security situation prompted the installation of 130 checkpoints and Nakas across various districts of Manipur, encompassing both hill and valley areas. As a result, law enforcement apprehended more than 1,900 individuals in connection with violations across different districts within the state.
" To keep the law and order in place, the police appealed to the general public to remain cautious and not believe any rumours being circulated on social media. Police also said the citizens can verify the authenticity of any suspicious content by reaching out to the Central Control Room at 9233522822.
" In the wake of continuous violence, a total shutdown, effective August 31, was called by the Indigenous Tribal Leaders' Forum (ITLF) in Lonphai, Khousabung, Kangvai and Sugnu areas in Churachandpur. However, emergency services like medical, police, water, electricity and the press were exempted from the shutdown.
" Chief Minister N Biren Singh, who expressed deep concern over the present situation in the state, termed it "critical" and said that demographic imbalance due to the influx of illegal immigrants and deforestation were some of the root causes of the present crisis. He also said the state was in a critical stage and the prevailing situation compelled him to take every step in a very cautious manner.More than 160 people have been killed and several hundreds injured since ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on May 3, when a "Tribal Solidarity March" was organised in the hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe status.Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal valley, while tribals, including Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mostly in the hill districts.