“Violent Protests Erupt in Manipur’s Churachandpur: One Dead, Many Injured in Clashes Over Suspended Police Officer”

In Manipur’s Churachandpur district, a tragic incident unfolded as a protest turned violent, resulting in the loss of life and injuries. The unrest stemmed from the suspension of a head constable, Siamlalpaul, after a selfie of him with individuals described as “armed miscreants” went viral. This sparked outrage among the local populace, leading to widespread demonstrations demanding his reinstatement.

The protest, which drew hundreds of people primarily from the Kuki-Zo tribes, took a violent turn as clashes erupted between the protesters and security forces. The situation escalated as the protesters surrounded the office of the Superintendent of Police, setting a bus and other structures ablaze. The security forces, including the Rapid Action Force (RAF), responded by firing tear gas shells to disperse the crowd, resulting in several injuries.

The suspension of Siamlalpaul and the subsequent protests highlight the complex ethnic tensions prevailing in Manipur. The state has been grappling with longstanding disputes between various ethnic groups, including the Kuki-Zo tribes and the Meiteis, over issues such as land rights, political representation, and affirmative action policies.

The Kuki-Zo tribes have accused the state police of bias and collusion with rival groups, while the police have denied these allegations, pointing instead to the involvement of Kuki-Zo insurgents in supporting “village defence volunteers.” This ongoing mistrust has further fueled the unrest in the region.

In a related development, a former leader of a civil society group, H Thangtinlen Daniel Mate, alleged that a senior police officer, Colonel Nectar Sanjenbam (retired), threatened his life. Colonel Nectar, known for his role in India’s surgical strikes in Myanmar in 2015, was appointed Senior Superintendent of Police (Combat) in Manipur. The retired army officer has denied the allegations, but the incident has added to the already tense atmosphere in the region.

The broader context of ethnic violence in Manipur cannot be ignored. The region has witnessed over 180 deaths and 50,000 people being internally displaced due to the prolonged conflict. The underlying issues of land disputes, resource allocation, and political representation remain unresolved, underscoring the urgent need for a comprehensive and inclusive resolution to ensure lasting peace in Manipur.

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