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Bhavika Jain, Pune

Ethnic strife has ravaged communities in Manipur since early May, resulting in a tragic toll of 175 people killed, 1100 injured, 4786 houses set on fire and 386 religious structures vandalised. 32 people remain missing, causing distress in the state.

Police have also confirmed that a large number of arms and ammunition have been stolen during the violence by the rioters. Inspector-General of Police (Operations) I.L. Muivah reassured the public that the police, central forces and the civil administration are trying to bring normalcy back.

A total of 5,172 cases of arson have been reported, stated Muivah. Moreover, 386 religious structures, including 254 churches and 132 temples were vandalised. Out of the reported ‘missing’ weapons, authorities successfully recovered 1,359 firearms and 15,050 ammunition, Muivah said on Thursday. 

IGP (Administration) K. Jayanta claims that out of the 175 bodies, 79 of the bodies have been claimed while 96 remain unclaimed. He also stated that 9,332 cases have been registered and 325 people were arrested, as a result of the ongoing violence.

On May 3, ethnic violence broke out in the northeastern state of Manipur. This started with a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ held in the hill districts to voice opposition and protest against the Meitei Community’s request for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. 

Approximately, 53% of Manipur’s population consists of Meiteis, living mostly in the Imphal Valley. About 40% of the population consists of tribals, such as Nagas and Kukis, who live mostly in the hill districts. 

The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), an umbrella body of Imphal valley based civil society organisation and a representative of the Meitei Community, held discussions with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday in his residence in Delhi and put forward a memorandum. The memorandum claimed that the Kuki Community caused embarrassment to the government by approaching the United Nations to resolve the Manipur Crisis.

During the meeting, they urged for the removal of Assam Rifles from the state, claiming that the force was behaving in a biased way in their actions. In their discussion, they also brought up concerns about narco-terrorism, identifying illegal immigrants and the suspension of operations agreement.