IMPHAL: At least five persons, including a tribal song composer and a Village Defence Volunteer, were killed and 20 others injured in Manipur’s Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts during the past three days while gunfights between Kukis and Meiteis were still on till Thursday night, officials said.
Sources said that the death toll in the incessant firing exchanges was six to seven in three days but officials were yet to confirm it.
The five slain people included L.S Mangboi Lhungdim, 50, who composed the song “I Gam Hilou Ham (Is this not our land?)” after the ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on May 3. His songs became a rallying cry for tribal unity. The dead also included VDV Jangminlun Gangte.
Firing was continuing in the foothills of Bishnupur and adjoining areas in Churachandpur district till late Thursday evening, after a fresh gunfight between two rival ethnic groups started early morning, police officials said in Imphal.
Two persons, who sustained splinter injuries during firing in Manipur’s Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts, succumbed to their wounds on Thursday.
Police said that a youth, who sustained splinter injuries on his head from a bomb blast on Wednesday, died while he was being shifted to Guwahati hospital for medical treatment via Mizoram.
Another injured person of Wednesday’s firing died on Thursday in Churachandpur district hospital, where he was undergoing treatment, a police official said. Defence sources said that in a prompt and effective response, the Army’s quick action team foiled an attempted arson incident near Leimakhong on Thursday evening.
An army column near Chingmang village noticed flames and smoke emerging from a vacant house. Without delay, the personnel sprang into action, establishing a secure perimeter around the area.
Within a few minutes of the incident, three Army water bowsers reached the location, and the fire was controlled and extinguished. Meanwhile, combing operations are also being conducted, simultaneously, to apprehend those involved in the attempted arson.
The swift action by the Army prevented the house from being gutted and the flames spreading to neighbouring houses, a defence spokesman said.
A Manipur Police statement said that it is being circulated in various social media that Lonphai, Khousabung, Kangvai and Sugnu areas are under attack, and clarified that there has been no such incidents at Kangvai and Sugnu.
However, exchange of fire did occur at Lonphai, and Khousabung. Security forces deployed in the area responded and subsequently, the firing subsided.
The situation is tense but under control, it said. A separate police statement said that during the search operations, 20 bombs, three looted arms, 20 different types of ammunition, and 30 grams of gunpowder were recovered from Churachandpur.