A day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah presented a peace plan for the violently divided northeastern state, curfew has been lifted in five districts of Manipur and reduced in other parts.
140 firearms have been turned in in Manipur as a result of the Home Minister’s warning, according to the state’s police. After ethnic violence broke out a month ago, as many as 2,000 firearms were stolen from the police arsenal.
During a four-day tour to Manipur, Amit Shah met with a number of groups and warned on Thursday that those who refused to give up their weapons will face harsh punishment. As part of a strategy to bring normalcy back to the state, he also announced a probe into the violence and a peace commission.
According to the police, 140 guns have been turned in across different Manipur districts in the last 24 hours.
The arsenal consists of an assortment of pistols as well as AK-47s, INSAS Rifles, tear gas, sten guns and a grenade launcher.
A senior police officer declared, “These are all service pattern weapons and are prohibited.”
Security personnel will start looking for guns, the home minister had forewarned.
Additionally, he urged militant organisations to abide with the SOO regulations. He had said, “If rules are broken, action will follow.”
In 2008, the United People’s Front and the Kuki National Organisation formed a suspending arrangement with the Centre. 24 of the groups connected to these two organisations had signed a SOO deal with the Centre.
“The cadre strength of these groups is about 2,200. They had signed a pact but had not surrendered their weapons,” an official said.
Yesterday, Amit Shah also announced a probe into the violence and a peace committee as part of a plan to restore stability in the state.
Investigating the racial violence will be a group chaired by a former Chief Justice. Kuldeep Singh, a security consultant, as well as members of the civil society will be on the governor-led peace committee.
When the Meitei community demanded Scheduled Tribe (ST) designation, a “Tribal Solidarity March” was arranged in the hill districts on May 3. This is when the first incidents of ethnic violence occurred. A succession of smaller agitations over the eviction of Kuki people from reserve forest area had raised tension before the violence.
After a relative respite for more than a month, the state saw a startling spike in fighting and gunfire between rebels and security personnel on Sunday.
Members of the Kuki-Hmar-Zomi-Mizo tribes organised a demonstration on Wednesday calling for the removal of the Chief Minister and the implementation of President’s rule in the state because the state government has been unable to handle the situation for more than a month.
The majority of Meiteis, who make up around 53% of Manipur’s population, reside in the Imphal Valley. Another 40% of the population is made up of the Naga and Kuki tribes, who live in the hill districts. According to authorities, the violence has resulted in the deaths of over 80 individuals thus far.