175 killed in four months of ethnic violence
As many as 175 people have been killed, 1,118 injured, and 33 are still missing since ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on May 3, the state's police has said. Ninety-six unclaimed bodies are lying unclaimed in morgues, it said.
The state government released some key statistics on the impact of violence in the northeastern state, which has continued for over four months despite the state and union government's attempts to restore normalcy.
At least 5,172 cases of arson have been reported, which includes 4,786 houses and 386 religious places (254 churches and 132 temples). Around 5,668 weapons have been looted from the state armoury since the beginning of the violence. Of this, security forces have recovered 1,329. Another 15,050 ammunition and 400 bombs were recovered.
Security forces have destroyed at least 360 illegal bunkers in the state, the data said.
The barricades set up between Phougakchao Ikhai and Kangvai villages -- covering the about one-kilometre stretch along the Imphal-Churachandpur road -- were also removed on Thursday. The barricades served as a boundary of a "buffer zone" between the hills and the valley, manned by security forces, to ensure that people from the warring Meitei and Kuki communities do not cross over and engage in violence.
Meanwhile, the Manipur High Court has now admitted a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the International Meiteis Forum (IMF) that seeks to "quash" the fact-finding report published by the Editors' Guild of India on the ethnic violence in the state. The PIL also requested for directions barring the use of the said report by any authority or agency looking into the conflict.
Meiteis account for about 53 percent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal valley, while tribals, including Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 percent and reside mostly in the hill districts.
A 'Tribal Solidarity March' organised on May 3 in the hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe status snowballed into full-blown ethnic conflict, leaving thousands displaced.