Manipur violence continues: Article 355 invoked, Army holds flag march; more troops airlifted from Assamtext_fields
Imphal: In view of the prevailing widespread unrest in Manipur, apparently worsening the law and order situation, the Central Government on Friday imposed Article 355 in the state to control the situation, top police officials said on Friday.
Article 355 of the Constitution contains emergency provisions that empower the Centre to take all necessary steps to protect a state against internal disturbances and external aggression.
Director General of Manipur Police, P. Doungel while talking to the media said that after reviewing the overall situation, Article 355 has been imposed in the entire state allowing the Centre to take all necessary steps to bring the situation under control and protect the lives and properties of the people.
The police chief said that some miscreants looted arms from a police station in Bishnupur district and he urged them to return the arms and ammunition failing which stern action would be initiated against them.
"The situation in Manipur is expected to be brought under control in a day or two," the DGP said. Army and Assam Rifles continued to conduct flag marches in several trouble-torn districts of Manipur for the third day on Friday even as sporadic incidents were reported from different areas.
Meanwhile, a defence spokesman on Friday said that flag marches were underway in several areas especially in the most volatile Churachandpur district.
He claimed that the situation was brought under control in many areas through coordinated actions by all stakeholders.
"Indian Air Force undertook continuous sorties to carry additional Army and Paramilitary troops from two airfields in Assam employing C17 Globemaster and AN 32 aircrafts. Induction commenced on the night of Thursday and additional columns commenced domination with effect from the wee hours of Friday. Domination and evacuation of civilians of all communities from affected areas continued throughout the night," the Defence PRO said.
The Manipur government on Thursday appointed Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) Ashutosh Sinha as the overall Operational Commander to control the situation and bring normalcy in the state.
Sinha on Friday said that 23 police stations, mostly in mountainous districts of the state, have been identified as most vulnerable and Army and central para-military forces were deployed in these police stations.
The ADGP, accompanied by senior other police officials, told the media that over 20,000 affected people of different communities have been evacuated and sheltered in safer places. "We urge the people not to fall prey to any rumour and if they need any assistance contact the nearby police stations and the government authorities," Sinha said.
Meanwhile, more than five Deputy Inspector General (DIG) rank officers and seven senior superintendents of police (SSP) and SP-rank officers of the CRPF have been tasked to coordinate the deployment of various security forces in violence infested Manipur.
A senior official of Manipur Home Department said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah is closely monitoring the situation in Manipur round the clock and he is in constant touch with top functionaries of state and Centre.
The Home Minister since Thursday held two video-conference meetings with Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, State Chief Secretary, DGP, Union Home Secretary and other top officials.
Shah also spoke to Chief Ministers of several northeastern states and discussed the Manipur situation and about the wellbeing of the students and people living in Manipur.
Various state governments of the northeastern states are in touch with the Manipur authorities on the safety and security of the students and people belonging to different northeastern states living in Manipur.
Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram governments have set up 24 X 7 help lines for the benefit of the students and people living in Manipur.
The situation turned seriously volatile after thousands turned up for the 'Tribal Solidarity March' on Wednesday to oppose the demand for inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category.
In an appeal, the Chief Minister urged the people to maintain peace and calm and cooperate with the state government.
"Wednesday's incidents took place due to misunderstanding between the communities. The government will settle the genuine demands and grievances after talking with all the communities and leaders," Singh said in a video message.
Rumours of several deaths are being spread creating problems for the law enforcement agencies. However, authorities have not confirmed any fatalities.
Chief Ministers of all the northeastern states and six-time world champion boxer M.C. Mary Kom separately urged the people to maintain ethnic harmony, peace and calm.Acting on a writ petition filed by the Meetei (Meitei) Trade Union, the Manipur High Court on April 19 had directed the state government to consider the case of the petitioners for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe list expeditiously.
The valley is dominated by Meitei and they are seeking the ST category status, alleging infiltration from Bangladesh and Myanmar, destroying the demographic pattern in the state.
The state government on Wednesday night requisitioned the Army and Assam Rifles to control the ethnic violence in at least six districts.Tribals - the Nagas and Kukis who are mainly Christians - constitute about 40 per cent of the state's around three million population and inhabit the hill districts which account for much of the state's land.
Protesting against the state government's action to evict them from forest lands and destruction of illegal poppy cultivation in the reserve and protected forests, the tribals had on March 10 organised protest rallies in three districts -- Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal, during which five people were injured.
Fresh incidents of violence, including arson and vandalisation of government properties, were triggered on April 27 in Churachandpur district after the tribals launched fresh protests against the state government's action against illegal poppy cultivation.
(Based on IANS feed with minor edits)