Police say crowd tries to steal weapons in India’s Manipur

GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) – Violence broke out in India’s Manipur on Wednesday as police clashed with a crowd they said had tried to ransack a security post and steal weapons, six months after ethnic clashes in the border state killed at least 180 people.

Police fired teargas and bullets in the air to disperse about 1,000 people in the state capital Imphal, foiling attempts to steal weapons, a Manipur police spokesperson said.

State authorities have re-imposed a curfew, which has been on and off for months, following the clashes.

The situation is “extremely tense” in the state, a senior official in the federal interior ministry said, adding that the presence of paramilitaries would be increased in the next 10 hours with members deployed from neighbouring states.

The clashes broke out at a time when the state government was relaxing curbs in Manipur, where ethnic violence erupted on May 3 between members of the majority Meitei ethnic group and minority Kuki community over sharing government benefits and quotas.

Sporadic clashes have continued since the peak of violence, marking a rare security failure for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in a state ruled by his Bharatiya Janata Party.

A team of security experts will be stationed in Imphal from Thursday, the interior ministry official said, adding that local police have been asked to move about alongside paramilitary forces to prevent fresh attacks and clashes.

Statements from police officers injured during the incident were being recorded by federal officials, the ministry official said, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to media. Police gave no indication of what they thought the crowd would do with the security forces’ weapons.

(Reporting by Zarir Hussain in Guwahati and Rupam Jain in New Delhi; Additional reporting by Krishn Kaushik; Writing by Shivam Patel; Editing by Philippa Fletcher)