Central “Security Crisis in Manipur: 4,000 Weapons Looted, 98 Dead, 310 Injured”

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Leading up to the visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah to the violence-stricken Manipur, civilians have “looted” nearly 3,000 weapons, as well as hand grenades and ammunition, posing a significant security challenge.

As a result, the total number of weapons looted from the police and the state armory has now exceeded 4,000, according to sources.

After a month of violence, the death toll has risen to 98, with sporadic firing incidents still occurring in some areas. While curfews have been relaxed in most districts, there were reports of armed miscreants and civilians exchanging fire in two locations on Friday.

A statement from the Chief Minister’s Office indicated that there have been 310 injuries and 4,1014 recorded cases of arson.

Sources have reported that 1,000 weapons and over 10,000 rounds of ammunition were looted in the initial wave of violence that began on May 3, with three times that number being looted last week during another spike in violence.

The recovery of these weapons has proven to be quite challenging. Up to this point, the police have only managed to recover around 650 weapons, and more than 3,300 civilians are reportedly still armed.

The presence of weapons in the hands of civilians is impeding efforts to restore normalcy to the state. The security establishment has identified the recovery of weapons as the first step in bringing the situation under control. Reports of armed civilians engaging security forces in some parts of Manipur persist, even as Shah’s visit was announced.

At the conclusion of his four-day visit, Shah appealed to civilians who had looted weapons from police stations and security force camps between May 3 and May 29 to surrender them by Thursday, as a combing operation by security forces would commence on Friday, and anyone found with weapons would be dealt with sternly.

By Friday morning, only 144 weapons had been surrendered. Prior to this, the police had managed to recover about 500 weapons.

Confirming that over 4,000 weapons had been looted since May 3, Manipur government adviser Kuldiep Singh stated, “As many as 144 weapons have been surrendered, along with some grenades and ammunition. We hope more people will come forward. We will shortly launch our combing operation.”

Sources in the security establishment emphasized the importance of disarming two Meitei groups — Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun — as they are suspected to be involved in a large number of Meitei-Kuki clashes. The two groups have been accused by Kuki groups of targeting the community, and their membership and armament are rapidly increasing. Ahead of Shah’s visit, a unit of Assam Rifles reportedly engaged in a gunfight with members of Arambai Tenggol.

With contributions from Leivon Jimmy in Imphal.

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