9,000 evacuated as clashes, arson rock Manipur.

Security forces on Thursday evacuated 9,000 people across Manipur as violence between the tribal and Meitei communities intensified, with the government calling in Indian Army and Assam Rifles personnel to control the volatile situation.

Since Wednesday, the state has been wrecked by arson and clashes, with videos of home burnt, religious places attacked, cars set afire, and angry mobs damaging property flooding social media. In some places, video footage showed people with their belongings stranded on the side of the road, desperately attempting to flee.

Chief minister N Biren Singh confirmed that lives were lost and property damaged, but didn’t specify exact figures. We are committed to protect the lives and property of all our people. Long term grievances of different communities will also be suitably addressed in due course in consultation with the people and their representatives,” Singh added.

Defence spokesperson lieutenant colonel Mahender Rawat said security forces rescued 9,000 people and gave them shelter in either defence or state government premises. Of these, 5,000 people were shifted to safe homes in Churachandpur, the worst-hit district, 2000 were moved out of their homes in Imphal, and another 2,000 people were rescued from the border town of Moreh in Tengnoupal district.

“There are videos and photos circulating of churches and houses of Kukis being burned in Imphal and some other areas. There are reports that houses of Meitei people in Churachandpur have also been targeted,” said a Kuki politician from Churachandpur, requesting anonymity.

Police officials said on the condition of anonymity that over 5,000 residents of the Kuki-dominated Langol area in Imphal fled their homes, and some places of worship were set ablaze and ransacked. Around 1,000 Meiteis in the tribal-dominated Churachandpur district fled, seeking refuge in Kwakta and Moirang in Bishnupur, the officials added.

Officials in the state capital of Imphal said they were aback by the scale and spread of the violence. The focus, they said, was to bring the situation back under control.

In Imphal, shops, business establishments, offices and educational institutions remained closed. In some places, police resorted to firing rubber bullets and tear gas shells to disperse mobs that had gathered and tried to inflict violence, officials added.

Six lawmakers from the tribal Naga community also asked the warring groups to stop the clashes. “We would like to appeal to all to sort out differences across the table,” said water resources minister Awangbow Newmai.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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