Manipur Unrest: Moreh combing ops continue, hills district under shutdown

| Updated: 02 November, 2023 9:25 pm IST

GUWAHATI: In the wake of the tragic death of Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Chingtham Anand, stationed in Manipur’s Moreh, the region has descended into chaos, with violent confrontations between security forces and agitators.

Chingtham Anand was overseeing the clearance of land for the construction of a helipad at Moreh Ward No 7 when a sniper’s bullet struck him around 9:30 am, as reported by police sources.

Recognising Anand’s “special duty in a special area,” an emergency cabinet meeting swiftly approved a financial relief of Rs 50 lakh and a suitable government job for the officer’s next of kin. The cabinet further mandated the launch of a joint operation in Moreh and surrounding areas to apprehend those responsible for the crime, continuing the operation until the culprits are brought to justice.

Due to road blockades set up by Kuki protestors, the Imphal–Moreh route remains inaccessible to state forces. Consequently, helicopters are being used to transport security personnel and supplies to and from Moreh, with two helipads maintained by the Assam Rifles previously facilitating this effort.

Recent reports also indicate that several police commandoes sustained injuries during an ambush by suspected insurgents, occurring just hours after the tragic ambush that claimed the life of Moreh SDPO Chingtham Anand. In response, officials launched an operation in the region to capture the assailants.

Meanwhile, Kuki-Zo tribal groups have raised concerns about the safety of people in Moreh following police combing operations, with many taking refuge in the forest. Public protests have erupted at various locations within the Kuki-Zo-dominated Kangpokpi district in response to the recent spate of violence in Moreh.

As a result of the protests, shops, businesses, and educational institutions in Kangpokpi district remained closed. The usually bustling National Highway-2 now stands deserted, with vehicles avoiding the road due to the total shutdown imposed by the KSO-General Headquarters and the Committee on Tribal Unity Sadar Hills Kangpokpi, whose volunteers have taken to blocking the highway at multiple points.

The public protest, organised by CoTU, attracted thousands of participants, mainly women, who voiced their concerns about the deployment of militants disguised as State Police Commandos in Moreh. They called for the immediate withdrawal of these forces from Kuki-Zo areas, including the border town of Moreh.

Ng. Lun Kipgen, CoTU’s Media Cell Coordinator, drew attention to the matter’s gravity, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to address the issue of state security forces’ deployment in Kuki-Zo-dominated regions, emphasising the urgent need for a political solution and separate administration.

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