Manipur’s communal violence continues unabated even on Saturday. 54 dead so far.

Manipur's communal violence continues on Saturday, May 6th, even after 54 deaths and the imposition of Article 355 to curb the riots.

Indian Army evacuating civilians amid Manipur's communal violence.

The situation in Manipur worsened even on Friday and Saturday, May 5th and May 6th, despite heavy deployment of security forces, including the Indian Army, Assam Rifles, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Rapid Action Force (RAF). While officially the death toll in Manipur’s communal violence is 54, unofficial sources claim that over a hundred have lost their lives, especially in the hilly districts.

As Manipur’s communal violence didn’t show any signs of ending, the Union government invoked Article 355 of the constitution to take over the law and order from Bharatiya Janata Party‘s (BJP) N Biren Singh-led state government. Yet, bloodshed didn’t end even after that but violence intensified.

Among those killed in Manipur’s communal violence, the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) at Lamphel, Imphal West district, reported 23 deaths, 16 bodies are kept in the Churachandpur District Hospital’s morgue, and 15 bodies are kept in Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal East district.

On Friday evening, a new lease of violence erupted in the Churachandpur district, where four civilians were gunned down by government forces when they took part in a human barricade on the Tidim Road to prevent the evacuation of the stranded Meitei people.

It’s alleged that the women were placed at the front of the barricade to ensure that the forces will not open fire on them, however, they were fired upon. Assam Rifle officials claimed that a group of 80-200 people gathered to stop the evacuation of the Meitei people and firing killed four of them. The police, however, claimed that three were shot dead in the incident.

In two separate incidents, five hill-based militants were killed by the Indian security forces on the night of Friday, while two soldiers of the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) were injured in the Churachandpur district.

Four militants were killed by the government forces in Saiton of Churachandpur district, following an encounter. One militant was reportedly killed, and two IRB soldiers were injured after militants fired on the forces at Torbung, resulting in a gun battle between both sides.

Partial normalcy returned to Imphal on Saturday morning, although heavy security deployment remains in place. While some shops were open since Saturday morning and a few vehicles plied on the roads, the city mostly remained under a virtual shutdown as panicked civilians didn’t venture out.

It has been reported that a tax assistant of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) named Letminthang Haokip was killed in Imphal by a mob. The IRS tweeted that Haokip was dragged out of his home and lynched by a mob. Condemning the murder, IRS said, “No cause or ideology can justify the killing of an innocent public servant on duty.”

Amid Manipur’s communal violence, the defence ministry informed that over 13,000 people were rescued and shifted to safe shelters, some in army camps, after the Indian Army brought Churachandpur, Moreh, Kakching, and Kangpokpi districts.

Manipur’s communal violence started on Wednesday, May 3rd, after a tribal rally against the grant of scheduled tribe (ST) status to the state’s valley-centric dominant Meitei community went ugly. The tribal people from Kuki, Chin and Zo communities, who mostly reside in the hilly parts of Manipur have been opposing the grant of ST community to Meiteis alleging that the community is already a dominant one and will be now able to drive the tribal people from their lands.

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