Manipur unrest: Article 355 invoked, Army flag march on, additional troops airlifted from Assam

Article 355 empowers the Centre to take all necessary steps to protect a state against internal disturbances and external aggression

Article 355 empowers the Centre to take all necessary steps to protect a state against internal disturbances and external aggression
Article 355 empowers the Centre to take all necessary steps to protect a state against internal disturbances and external aggression

Manipur: Army flag marches underway in several areas especially in the most volatile Churachandpur district

Amid the widespread unrest in Manipur, the Central government has imposed Article 355 in the state to control the situation, top police officials said on Friday.

Article 355 is a part of emergency provisions contained in the Constitution that empowers 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.

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 to the state.

Sinha on Friday said that 23 police stations, mostly in mountainous districts of the state, have been identified as the 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 from different communities have been evacuated and sheltered in safer places. “We urge the people not to fall prey to any rumor and if they need any assistance contact the nearby police stations and the government authorities,” Sinha said.

Retired IPS officer Kuldiep Singh, a former CRPF Chief, has been appointed security advisor by the Manipur government.

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 the 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 the well-being of the students and people living in Manipur.

In view of the prevailing situation, the Manipur government on Thursday authorized all District Magistrates, Sub-Divisional Magistrates, and all Executive Magistrates to issue “Shoot at sight orders” in extreme cases.

Rumors of several deaths are being spread creating problems for the law enforcement agencies. However, authorities have not confirmed any fatalities.

The situation in Manipur turned volatile as thousands of tribals on Wednesday turned up for the march called by the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur (ATSUM) in all the 10 hill districts to oppose the demand for inclusion of the Meitei community in the ST category.

Acting on a writ petition filed by the Meetei (Meitei) Trade Union, the Manipur High Court on April 19 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.

Following the rally, clashes, attacks, counter-attacks among different communities, and burning of houses and shops took place in different districts, forcing authorities to suspend mobile internet services for five days, while a night curfew was also imposed in several tension-ridden mountainous districts, including Imphal West, Bishnupur, Jiribam, Tenugopal, and Churachandpur.

[With Inputs from IANS]

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