Manipur Under Curfew After Deadly Attack in Lilong

Manipur violence

Imphal: Manipur’s valley districts have been under a full curfew since Monday night after a violent attack by armed men in Thoubal district’s Lilong area left three people dead and five others injured. The attack has triggered tension and anger among the locals, who torched three vehicles in protest. The state government has assured that the perpetrators will be brought to justice and appealed for peace and calm.

What happened in Lilong?

According to reports, the incident occurred around 8:00 pm on Monday, when a group of unidentified gunmen in camouflage attire arrived in the Lilong Chingjao area and opened fire at random, targeting the residents. Three people, identified as Md. Abdul Gaffar, Md. Abdul Hakim and Md. Abdul Salam was killed on the spot, while five others sustained bullet injuries. The injured were rushed to the nearby hospital for treatment.

The motive behind the attack is not clear yet, but some sources have speculated that it could be related to the ongoing ethnic conflict in the state. The police have registered a case and launched a manhunt to nab the culprits. The state government has also announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 5 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 each to the injured.

How did the locals react?

The attack sparked outrage and fear among the locals, who staged a demonstration and blocked the road near the site of the incident. They also set ablaze three four-wheelers, including a Bolero and a Maruti van, that were parked nearby. The fire brigade and the police had to intervene to douse the flames and disperse the crowd. The locals have demanded that the government should take immediate action against the attackers and provide security to the area.

What did the government say?

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, in a video message, condemned the attack and expressed his condolences to the bereaved families. He said that the government does not take the incident lightly and has pressed the Manipur police into action to nab the culprits. He also appealed to the people, especially from Lilong, to refrain from resorting to any form of violence and cooperate with the government. He assured that the government will take stringent actions against the culprits as per law.

What is the curfew situation?

Given the developing law and order situation in the state and to prevent any untoward incidents and loss of life and property, the district magistrates of Imphal West, Thoubal, Imphal East, Kakching, and Bishnupur have imposed a full curfew in their respective areas with immediate effect. The curfew relaxation order dated December 31 has been cancelled and no movement of people or vehicles is allowed until further notice. The curfew order also exempts essential services and emergencies.

Once again violence erupted in Manipur

What is the background of the ethnic violence in Manipur?

Manipur has been witnessing ethnic violence since May 2023, when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organized in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. The march turned violent when some protesters clashed with the security forces and burnt down several government offices and vehicles. The violence spread to other parts of the state, resulting in the death of over 170 people and injury of 1,108 others, according to police.

The Meiteis, who account for about 53 percent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley, have been demanding ST status for a long time, claiming that they are indigenous to the state and face discrimination and marginalization. The tribals, which include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 percent of the population and reside mostly in the hill districts. They oppose the Meitei demand, fearing that it would affect their rights and privileges.

The state government has been trying to resolve the issue through dialogue and consultation, but no consensus has been reached so far. The central government has also intervened and sent a team of officials to assess the situation and facilitate the peace process. The new education policy 2020, which aims to promote a more flexible, multidisciplinary, and skill-based curriculum for the students, has also been implemented in the state, hoping to foster a sense of unity and harmony among the diverse communities.