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Manipur: Curfew Relaxed In 11 Districts As Situation Improves, Flag Marches Carried Out In Affected Areas

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had on Monday said that 60 people were killed, 231 were injured, and 1,700 buildings including religious places were burnt in the ethnic violence in the state.

Army and Assam Rifles personnel conduct a flag march in violence-hit areas amid tribal groups protest over court order on Scheduled Tribe status, Manipur.
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Curfew was relaxed in 11 districts of Manipur on Wednesday as the situation has improved in the state.

However, Indian Army and Assam Rifles personnel continue to carry out flag marches in affected areas. 

For days, Manipur was under the grips of ethnic violence between the state's Meitei and tribal communities. At least 60 people died in the violence and over 30,000 became homeless. The security forces evacuated around 26,000 to safety outside their districts and around 4,000 are housed in camps close to their homes, according to Information and Public Relations Minister Sapam Ranjan Singh.

Officials on Wednesday told PTI that curfew was relaxed for six hours from 5 am in 11 districts, including Imphal West, Bishnupur, Churachandpur and Jiribam.

Several thousands of Indian Army and Assam Rifles personnel were deployed to Manipur along with central armed police forces (CAPFs) personnel from Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), riot-control specialist Rapid Action Force (RAF), and Border Security Force (BSF). 

Clashes between security personnel and militants were also reported during the ethnic violence in Manipur.

The Free Imphal Press on Wednesday reported that two Assam Rifles personnel were injured in a firefight with Kuki militants near Pukhao Shantipur in Imphal East.

What we know of the situation in Manipur?

A total of 128 columns of the Indian Army and Assam Rifles continued flag marches in the affected areas and undertook round-the-clock aerial surveillance using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

"The Indian Army along with Assam Rifles have significantly re-engineered the security architecture and numerous resources have been infused in Manipur especially in the backdrop of prevailing security situation in which normalcy has now commenced to show visible manifestation and people are now returning to their homes and reunification of stranded people with their loved ones has commenced," a statement issued by the Defence PRO on Wednesday said.

"The Indian Army is leaving no stones unturned to undertake surveillance of areas not only in hinterland but also along the India-Myanmar Border. Round-the-clock surveillance through Unmanned Aerial Vehicles with specific tasking, employment of MI 17 and Cheetah helicopters of Indian Air Force and Army and numerous foot patrols and flag marches to restore confidence of locals on ground are being resorted to," it said.

The Army also urged people not to fall for "malicious attempts to disturb harmony through manipulated interpretation or misrepresentation of facts" as "inimical elements may once again attempt to spread malicious unverified content".

"As Manipur slowly rises up to the peace and tranquil atmosphere amongst all communities hitherto fore, inimical elements may once again attempt to spread malicious unverified content. Indian Army and Assam Rifles remain committed to restoring complete normalcy at the earliest and would request all to disregard any malicious attempt to disturb harmony in the region through manipulated interpretation or misrepresentation of facts," the statement added.

Chief Minister N Biren Singh had on Monday said that 60 people were killed, 231 injured and 1,700 houses including religious places burnt in the ethnic violence that rocked the northeastern state for the past few days.

How did Manipur violence start?

Violent clashes broke out in Manipur after a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the 10 hill districts on May 3 to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

The clashes were preceded by tension over eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, which had led to a series of smaller agitations.

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Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribal communities of Nagas and Kukis constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.

(With PTI inputs)

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