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Fresh Violence in Jiribam Sparks Concern in Lakhipur, 600 Displaced by Ethnic Conflict

Following fresh violence in Manipur on June 6, the border area of Jirighat in the Lakhipur constituency of Assam is on high alert. The recent unrest has prompted a significant police presence and strict patrolling by Cachar Police, with Superintendent of Police (SP) Cachar conducting daily visits to assess the situation. Over 600 people have already sought refuge in Lakhipur’s Hmarkhawlien area.

The violence erupted after the beheaded body of Soibam Saratkumar Singh was discovered in Jiribam, Manipur. His disappearance and subsequent death led to widespread chaos, with local reports indicating that 75 houses were destroyed and a police outpost and surrounding forests set ablaze. Ethnic clashes between the Kukis and Meiteis ensued, further escalating tensions.

In response, the SP of Jiribam Police was transferred, and Section 144 of the CrPC was enforced, though clashes persisted despite the curfew. Fearful of further violence, many residents of Jiribam have fled to Assam’s Cachar district.

On Sunday, during a border patrol, Lakhipur MLA Kaushik Rai visited the affected area. He announced a peace meeting between local communities, aiming to prevent the violence from spilling over into Lakhipur, Cachar, or the wider Barak Valley.

“After the June 6 incident, many people from Jiribam, Manipur, took shelter in my constituency, bordering Manipur. In the last three days, more than 600 people from Manipuri, Kuki, and Hmar communities have taken shelter here. Our target is to prevent any spillover effect of the recent violence in Manipur over Lakhipur, Cachar, or the entire Barak Valley in general,” said Rai.

Kaushik Rai emphasized the importance of unity among the area’s diverse communities. “We have people of all communities, including various tribal groups, and for that reason, we have called a meeting of the peace committee tomorrow. We will reassure our faith in the united brotherhood of our area. We will give shelter to all the people who came from Manipur as long as the situation is better there. The state government is overseeing the matter along with strict vigilance from the Police and District Administration,” he added.

SP Cachar, Numal Mahatta echoed Rai’s commitment to maintaining peace. “We have police deployments in all the areas bordering Manipur, along with our commando force. Patrolling is ongoing. The peace-loving people of this area and the locals have been very cooperative. Some people have taken shelter with their relatives, and some are in public shelters. The situation is peaceful, and we are vigilant. Our target is to ensure that the unrest does not cross the Manipur border. We are there round the clock so that no elements disturb the peace of the area,” the SP stated.

The Assam government had previously provided relief to those displaced by violence in Manipur last May. Currently, no similar arrangements have been made, though MLA Rai assured that discussions with higher authorities are ongoing to secure government assistance for the refugees.

It has been more than one year since the violence began in Manipur owning to a reservation status to the Meiteis, being opposed by the Kukis. A report published in The Hindu reported that “Manipur violence accounted for 97% of displacements in South Asia in 2023”. Of the 69,000 displacements in 2023 in South Asia owing to conflict and violence, Manipur violence alone accounted for 67,000. The situation remains tense, with local representatives and law enforcement working tirelessly to prevent further violence and ensure the safety of all residents and refugees in the region.

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