| 15 April 2024, Monday |

Manipur violence: Union ministers’ house set on fire by arsonists

The ongoing ethnic conflict between the Meitei and Kuki communities in Manipur, India’s northeastern state, continues to persist. On Thursday night, a group of individuals set fire to the residence of RK Ranjan Singh, Union Minister of State for External Affairs, located in Kongba, the capital city of Imphal.
Despite the presence of nine security escort personnel, five security guards and eight additional guards, the mob power prevailed. Fortunately enough, Singh wasn’t at his house and nobody got injured when the arsonists threw ‘petrol bombs’ and started the fire.

Second attack on ministers’ house
“We couldn’t prevent the incident as the mob was overwhelming and we couldn’t control the situation. They threw petrol bombs from all directions – from the bylane behind the building and from the front entrance – so we simply couldn’t control the mob,” L Dineshwor Singh, Escort Commander, said.

Commenting on the violence, Singh said it was ‘unfortunate’ that such incidents were taking place in his home state.

“I am currently in Kerala for official work. Thankfully, nobody got injured last night at my Imphal home. The miscreants came with petrol bombs and damage has been done to the ground floor and first floor of my home,” Singh was quoted as saying by ANI.

“It is very sad to see what is happening in my home state. I will still continue to appeal for peace. Those indulging in this kind of violence are absolutely inhuman.”

Notably, this was the second instance when the minister’s home was targetted by the rioters, according to The New Indian Express. In May, a similar attack was thwarted when the security personnel fired in the air to disperse the mob. The attack followed a recent meeting, chaired by Singh, with a group of intellectuals from Meitei and Kuki communities to discuss how to bring peace to the violence-hit northeast state.
The ethnic violence in Manipur started on May 3 when tribal groups, including the Kuki community, clashed with the ethnic majority of Meitei people – a non-tribal group, over economic benefits and quotas given to the tribes.

After the initial round of violence, Union Home Minister Amit Shah visited the state to take stock of the situation and requested for ’15-days of calm’ to simmer down the situation.

His request seemingly worked as violence abated before flaring up again a few days ago, in the sharpest escalation of violence yet. At least nine people were gunned down while 10 were injured after militants struck a village in the Khamenlok area on Monday night.
The assailants surrounded the village and shortly after, a gunfight took place between them and village volunteers. Cumulatively, more than 100 people have lost their lives while 310 have been injured since the skirmishes first broke out.

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