A fierce gunfight between Meitei and Kuki groups on the border between Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts has been continuing for the past three days.
Director general of Assam Rifles PC Nair said the situation in Manipur was unprecedented, as fresh violence has killed eight persons in Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts over the last 72 hours, and claimed the state had never seen this before.
He said while the situation was new for the armed forces to handle, such a state of violence was also new for the state of Manipur.
“The situation that we are facing in Manipur is unprecedented. We have never faced anything of this kind in history. It is new to us, it is new to Manipur too. Something similar happened in the early 90s when the Nagas and Kukis fought and then within the Kuki groups also there was a fight in the late 90s,” Nair told news agency ANI.
Nair said there were multiple challenges that the armed forces were facing in the violence-hit state. One of the biggest challenges, as per Nair, was the “large number of weapons” within both communities.
“The society has become weaponised. Unless these weapons come back in whatever way they can, this challenge will be the biggest. Today, there’s so much against each other, it’s so corrupted. This needs to be stalled.”
At least eight persons have been killed and 18 injured, including two security personnel, in Manipur’s Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts following continuous gunbattle between Kukis and Meiteis over the last 72 hours.
An official said firing was continuing intermittently in the foothills of Khoirentak in Bishnupur district and adjoining Chingphei and Khousabung areas in Churachandpur district.
Nair said the only way a resolution can be reached is through negotiations. He said, “There is a need for realisation to come for the people that the only way forward is peace. They have to talk and get back negotiations.”
Other challenges, Nair said, were road blockages which hamper the movement of the troops. “These things have not happened in such a scale.”
In the past month, the Army and Assam Rifles have repeatedly accused women protesters – including Meira Paibis from the Meitei community – of interfering with operations and blocking the movement of troops due to protests or road blockage. In response, Meira Paibis have accused the Assam Rifles of bias and helping Kuki militants.
At least 163 people have died and another 50,000 displaced since ethnic violence first broke out between the Meitei and Kuki communities on May 3.