Tribal people of Jiribam separated from the Meitei community following recent violence, says Manipur tribal body

The Indigenous Tribes Advisory Council requested that central security forces be deployed in adequate numbers to man the ‘line of separation’ that has reportedly been created

Updated - June 12, 2024 04:51 pm IST

Published - June 12, 2024 04:50 am IST - New Delhi

Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh visited the injured security personnel in a hospital in Imphal on Monday.

Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh visited the injured security personnel in a hospital in Imphal on Monday. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Days after fresh violence in Manipur’s Jiribam district displaced hundreds of Meitei, and Kuki-Zo and Hmar people, many even to Assam, the Indigenous Tribes Advisory Council, a civil society organisation of tribal communities in Jiribam and Pherzawl districts, on June 11 said that the Hmar-Kuki-Zomi tribal people of Jiribam had been totally separated from the Meitei community in the district in the wake of the recent violence.

The body thanked central security forces for evacuating people and requested that they be deployed in adequate numbers to man the “line of separation” that had now reportedly been created due to the attacks on their villages last week — to protect them from suspected advances by groups like Arambai Tenggol, or valley-based insurgent groups (VBIGs), who they believed were being aided by State forces.

While close to 1,000 Kuki-Zo-Hmar and Meitei people are reported to have taken refuge in Assam, hundreds more are being housed at various relief camps within Jiribam district, having been displaced or evacuated from their homes in the last few days.

On June 6, fresh tensions had gripped Jiribam district, which had largely remained peaceful through the conflict, after the body of a 59-year-old Meitei farmer, Soibam Saratkumar Singh, who had gone missing weeks ago, was found by locals. This came weeks after another body, that of Seigoulen Singson, a tribal man who had gone missing, was found by locals in the district in mid-May.

On June 6, as suspicions flew about Singh’s killers being from a particular community, the Kuki-Zo and Hmar people of villages like Uchathol Hmar Veng, Vengnuam Paite Veng, and Songkoveng started reporting attacks on them. Around Vengnuam, a church was burnt down and dozens of homes were destroyed, in addition to a 40-year-old man, L Lallianmuang, allegedly being abducted by armed attackers.

Around the same time, several villages where Meitei people lived also started hearing messages that they were being surrounded by “militants”. Many left for the Borobekra Police Station in a panic, with several reporting that their villages, including Lamtai Khunou, and homes in places such as Mongbum, Babukhal, Boroikhal, were burnt after they were evacuated by security forces.

In the days since the attacks, more than 1,000 people — both Meitei, and Kuki-Zo and Hmar – have been displaced from their homes, with about 800 Kuki-Zo-Hmar people being housed at a community centre in Assam’s Cachar district, according to Johnson Singson, managing director of the Burrows Memorial Christian Hospital, a private hospital in Cachar district, about 20 km from the community hall which is monitoring the health needs of the internally displaced persons there.

Further, a Meitei civil society organisation, Meitei Heritage Society, has said that they had calculated a total of over 500 Meitei people displaced from their homes in Jiribam. The group has said that these internally displaced people were being housed at various relief camps in Jiribam district, including makeshift ones.

The recent spate of attacks in Jiribam come as the ethnic conflict in the State continues between the majority Meitei people and the Scheduled Tribe people of the Kuki-Zo tribal communities for over a year now. Over 220 people have been killed in the conflict so far, with thousands of others injured. Until this violence in Jiribam, at least over 50,000 people had been internally displaced by the conflict.

Meanwhile, Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey on Tuesday paid a visit to Sundargarh MP Jual Oram, who on Sunday took oath as the Union Tribal Affairs Minister, posting her congratulations along with a picture on his induction in the Cabinet on social media platform X. Sources said the meeting was not an official one.

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