The house of Manipur PWD Minister Konthoujam Govindas in Bishnupur district was vandalised on Wednesday by a group of people claiming that the government in the strife-torn state is not doing enough to protect locals from militants belonging to another community, officials said.
The minister who is a BJP leader and his family members, however, were not present at the house when the mob, comprising mostly women, attacked the house in Ningthoukhong area and damaged a portion of a gate, windows, a few furniture and electronic gadgets.
This is the first time a minister’s house was attacked during the ongoing ethnic violence between Meitei and Kuki community people in the state that started three weeks ago and claimed more than 70 lives. Army and paramilitary forces have been deployed to control the situation in the state.
“The locals were angry. They alleged that Chief Minister N Biren Singh, Govindas and other BJP MLAs have been silent over the ongoing violence and not doing enough to protect them from armed militants,” an official said.
There were reports that militants late Tuesday night torched the houses of some villagers at Toronglaobi in Bishnupur district. The authorities have then reduced the curfew relaxation hours, officials said.
There were rumours about a few persons getting killed or injured in Churachandpur district but there was no official confirmation.
Meanwhile, Eastern Army commander Lt Gen R P Kalita undertook a three-day visit to strife-torn Manipur till Wednesday to assess and review the ground security situation, a defence official said in Kolkata.
The northeastern state shares international borders with Myanmar.
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The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Army Command, held meetings with local stakeholders, including members of all communities and several civil society organisations, the official said.
In his meetings with the stakeholders, the Eastern Army commander “urged suspension of hostilities by all sections of society”.
During the visit from May 22 to 24, Lt Gen Kalita visited Kangpokpi, Matripukhri, Churachandpur, Bishnupur, Yaingangpokpi and Moreh, where he was updated on the security situation by local commanders.
He also held interactions with Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh and senior government officials to discuss the ongoing situation and measures to boost unison among all agencies for setting in normalcy as early as possible, he said.
Kalita urged the people of Manipur to maintain tranquillity and harmony and to carry out constructive dialogue to ensure lasting peace in the region.
The Army has recovered five shotguns, five improvised local grenades and three cartons of shotgun ammunition from a car in Senapati district.
“Three persons were apprehended and handed over to the police along with the recovered items,” the force said on Wednesday.
Clashes broke out in Manipur after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts on May 3 to protest the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
The violence in Manipur was preceded by tension over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, which had led to a series of smaller agitations.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals — Nagas and Kukis — constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.
The ethnic clashes claimed over 70 lives and some 10,000 army and paramilitary personnel had to be deployed to restore normalcy in the northeastern state.
Story first published: Wednesday, May 24, 2023, 23:43 [IST]