Two dead, scores injured after police open fire in India’s Manipur state

By Thomson Reuters Feb 15, 2024 | 11:36 PM

By Tora Agarwala

GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) – At least two people were killed and scores injured in India’s northeastern Manipur state after security forces opened fire at a mob in Churachandpur district late on Thursday, a police official said, as sporadic violence continued in the region.

Close to 200 people have died since fierce fighting broke out last May between members of the majority Meitei and minority Kuki communities in the state bordering Myanmar over sharing economic benefits and quotas given to the tribes. Thousands remain displaced in relief camps.

Churachandpur, home to the Kuki-Zo community, was among the first areas in the state to witness ethnic clashes when violence first erupted in May.

Thursday’s violence broke out after the district police ordered the suspension of a Kuki constable after purported images of him with armed men surfaced on social media.

About 400 people stormed the district police chief’s office at around 7.30 p.m. (1400 GMT), demanding the order be revoked.

The mob attacked the complex which houses the offices of the police chief as well as the district administration, in the heart of the town.

“They climbed the gates and scaled the walls of the complex. Several vehicles were burnt, and later at night, the official residence of the deputy commissioner was torched,” a senior police official said by phone.

Security forces lobbed tear gas at first in an attempt to disperse the mob and then “resorted to shooting”, the official said, requesting anonymity as the person was not authorised to speak to the media.

The official said about 25 people were injured, and were being treated in hospital.

Authorities have suspended mobile internet services in Churachandpur for the next five days.

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), an apex tribal body, warned district police chief Shivanand Surve, who had issued the suspension order, to leave Churachandpur within the next 24 hours.

(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Kim Coghill)