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Imphal, May 4 – In the wake of the violence in Manipur, Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Thursday during which they discussed the current situation in the state.
According to official sources, the Union Minister took stock of the law and order situation during the phone call.
In an appeal to the people of Manipur, Biren Singh in a video message appealed to the people to maintain peace and calm and cooperate with the state government.
“Wednesday’s incidents took place due to misunderstanding between the communities. The government will settle the genuine demands and grievances after talking with all the communities and leaders,” Singh said in a video message.
The situation in Manipur turned volatile as thousands of tribals on Wednesday turned up for the ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ called by the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur (ATSUM) in all the 10 hill districts to oppose the demand for inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category.
Clashes, attacks among different communities and arsoning took place across the state forcing authorities to suspend mobile Internet services for five days, whilea night curfew was also imposed in several tension-ridden mountainous districts, including Imphal West, Bishnupur, Jiribam and Churachandpur.
The state government on Wednesday night requisitioned the Army and Assam Rifles to control the ethnic violence in at least six districts.
A defence spokesman told IANS on Thursday that the Army and Assam Rifles accompanied by state police are now conducting flag marches in Churachandpur, Imphal West and Kangpokpi districts.
“The columns of Army and Assam Rifles along with state police intervened to control the situation on Wednesday night. The violence was controlled by Thursday morning. Flag marches are being conducted to maintain the situation under control,” the defence PRO said.
He said that around 8,000 villagers of different communities were given shelter in Army and Assam Rifles camps in different places.
“Shifting of villagers to safer areas away from violence hit locations is under progress. Indian Army and Assam Rifles undertook major rescue operations to evacuate the civilians of all communities relentlessly throughout the night to restore law and order in Manipur. Indian Army remains committed to the well being and safety of the population of Manipur,” a defence statement said.
Police said that there were sporadic incidents of clashes, attacks and arsoning took place in several districts and tension prevailed in the few hill districts after the Wednesday’s ATSUM-backed rallies.
Tension prevailed in Churachandpur, Senapati, Chandel, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal, where shutting down of markets and suspension of public transport forced the authorities to impose a curfew.
The valley is dominated by Meitei and they are seeking the ST category status, alleging infiltration from Bangladesh and Myanmar, destroying the demographic pattern in the state.
“Whereas, it is considered that movement of any person outside their residences is likely to cause a breach of peace, disturbance to public tranquillity and grave danger to human lives and properties,” a government order issued on Wednesday night said.
“Some anti-social elements are using social media extensively for transmission of images, hate speech and hate video messages inciting the passions of the public. The social media has also become a handy tool for rumour mongers and is being used to incite the general public, which might have serious repercussions for the law and order situation in Manipur.
“There is an imminent danger of loss of life and /or damage to public/private property, and wide-spread disturbances to public tranquillity and communal harmony, as a result of inflammatory material and false rumours, which are being/could be transmitted/circulated to the public through social media/ messaging services on mobile services, SMS services and dongle services. All mobile service providers are hereby directed to ensure compliance with this order,” a order added.
Protesting against the state government’s action to evict tribals from the forest lands and destruction of illegal poppy cultivation in the reserve and protected forests, the tribals had on March 10 organised protest rallies in three districts — Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal, during which five people were injured.
Just a day before the violence, Biren Singh had claimed on Tuesday that Myanmar immigrants are responsible for deforestation, poppy cultivation, and drug menace in the state.
In a series of social media posts, the Chief Minister said the state government will continue to give utmost priority to the protection of Manipur and its entire indigenous people.