By Zarir Hussain
GUWAHATI (Reuters) – Indian police have dismissed as “false and misleading” reports that a mob attacked the private residence of Biren Singh, chief minister of the strife-torn northeastern state of Manipur, adding that it was protected by “adequate security”.
Thursday’s comments followed reports by media, including Reuters, as protests rocked the state capital of Imphal, injuring more than 80 people, before the return of an uneasy calm on Friday.
“News of the chief minister’s personal residence being mobbed is false and misleading,” the state police said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “Adequate security is already in place.”
Ethnic violence has plunged the state bordering Myanmar into what many security experts describe as an intense civil war fought over land, jobs and political clout between its majority Meitei and minority tribal Kuki communities.
There was no violence on Friday, despite some protesters defying curfew in parts of the city, as police and paramilitary troops stood on guard to keep the situation under control.
“With curfew, as mobile internet is not available, life is becoming complete hell,” said college student Subhash Singh in Imphal, where only a few groceries and chemists were allowed to open to enable purchases of essential items and medicines.
Authorities declared indefinite curfew in Imphal and some areas after clashes on Wednesday following protests against the alleged abduction and murder of two students.
Mobile internet services have been suspended in the state for five days.
Since the violence first erupted on May 3, more than 180 people have been killed, most of them Kukis, and over 50,000 have fled their homes in Manipur.
While buffer zones statewide have come up between the areas dominated by the two communities, the latest round of protests have been largely restricted to the Meitei-controlled area of the Imphal valley.
More than half the state’s population of 3.2 million belongs to the Meitei community, while the Kuki community, who make up about 16%, live mostly in the hills.
The two students, whose bodies were found this week after they went missing in July, were from the Meitei community.
Their families and community leaders have accused Kuki militants of killing them, while criticising authorities for not putting a halt to the violence.
A federal investigative body is now inquiring into the case.
The chief minister, who is from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, denounced the suspected murder and vowed maximum punishment for the culprits.
Leaders of the opposition Congress party have accused the Modi government of failing to control the violence in a state governed by his Hindu nationalist party. Modi’s government says it is pursuing efforts to restore peace through dialogue.
(Reporting by Zarir Hussain; Writing by Krishn Kaushik; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)