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2 Killed and 25 Injured in Manipur Clash over Constable’s Suspension

At least two individuals have tragically lost their lives, and 25 others sustained injuries during a clash with security forces today in Manipur’s Churachandpur district, predominantly inhabited by the Kuki-Zo tribes. The clash erupted as hundreds of people took to the streets to protest the suspension of a head constable after a selfie of him with purportedly “armed miscreants” circulated widely on social media.

The police said there is tension in the district. Protesters were seen surrounding the office of the Superintendent of Police, demanding the reinstatement of the head constable, Siamlalpaul, who took the selfie in a bunker of “armed miscreants” and “village defence volunteers” atop a hill.

The protesters set a bus and other structures outside the district police chief’s office on fire. Security forces opened fire as the angry mob turned violent. 

The Cause of the Violent Clash occurred over a protest against suspension of a head constable after selfie of him with ‘armed miscreants’ went viral. (Image: TOI)

Mobile internet has been suspended in the district given the violence.

“A departmental inquiry is being contemplated against Siamlalpaul of Churachandpur district police, as a clip has gone viral on social media showing him making a video with armed men on February 14,” the suspension order by the Churachandpur Superintendent of Police Shivanand Surve said.

Manipur has been seeing gunfights between rival armed groups – who call themselves “village defence volunteers” – amid the ethnic tensions between the hill-majority Kuki-Zo tribes and the valley-majority Meiteis.

The protesters alleged the head constable has been suspended unfairly, and should be reinstated. Churachandpur, a district dominated by the Kuki-Zo tribes, was one of the areas most affected by the ethnic clashes that began in May 2023.

The Kuki-Zo tribes have repeatedly alleged the involvement of the state police in attacking their villages. The police have refuted these allegations at every turn, and instead pointed at the alleged involvement of Kuki-Zo insurgents in bolstering “village defence volunteers”.

The Kuki-Zo civil society group Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) in a statement late on Thursday said the Churachandpur police chief is “entirely responsible for tonight’s incident in the district…”

The ITLF alleged videos have been doing the rounds on social media in the past few months showing Manipur Police personnel fighting alongside armed groups and attacking Kuki-Zo areas. “But no action has been taken against them,” the ITLF said.

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