Manipur violence escalates as mob storms SP office in Churachandpur kills two

Manipur violence

Churachandpur: A violent mob of about 300-400 people attacked the office of the Superintendent of Police (SP) in Churachandpur district of Manipur on Thursday night, setting it ablaze and pelting stones at the security forces. The Rapid Action Force (RAF) and other security forces retaliated by firing tear gas shells to disperse the crowd. The clash resulted in the death of two people, who were allegedly part of the mob and injured around 25 others. The situation is under watch by the authorities, who have imposed Section 144 of the IPC in the area and suspended internet services for five days.

The attack was triggered by the suspension of a head constable of the Churachandpur district police, Siamlalpaul, who was seen with armed men in a viral video on social media. The video showed him sitting with village volunteers, who are suspected to be involved in cross-border narcoterrorism and illegal migration. The SP of Churachandpur, Shivanand Surve, suspended him with immediate effect on February 14, calling it a “very grave misconduct” for a member of the disciplined police force. He also ordered a departmental inquiry against him and restricted his pay and allowances.

The suspension of Siamlalpaul, who belongs to the Kuki-Zo tribal community, sparked outrage among his supporters, who accused the Meitei-dominated state government of targeting their community. The Kuki-Zo people have been protesting against the demand of the Meitei community, the majority in the Imphal Valley, for a Scheduled Tribe status, which they fear would give them more power and influence over the hill districts. The Kuki-Zo people also allege that the state government’s war on drugs is a pretext to evict them from their ancestral lands, where poppy cultivation is rampant.

Manipur violence

The attack on the SP office is the latest incident in the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur, which has claimed at least 175 lives and displaced more than 60,000 people since May 2023. The violence has mainly been between the Meitei and the Kuki-Zo groups, who have clashed over land rights, religious differences, and political aspirations. The violence has also involved attacks on police and security forces, looting of weapons, and vandalism of religious structures. The central and state governments have deployed additional forces and initiated peace talks to restore normalcy in the region.