Army Frees Militants in Manipur to Protect Local Lives Amid Mob Stand-off

In a tense situation in Itham village, Imphal East, an Army column made a calculated decision to release a group of militants from the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) to prevent potential harm to civilians. A 1,500-strong mob, predominantly led by women, surrounded the Army forces, impeding their operation.

KYKL, a Meitei militant group known for its involvement in various attacks, including the 2015 ambush of a 6 Dogra unit, had taken refuge in Itham village. However, considering the risks to civilian lives, the Army chose not to engage in a potentially violent clash and withdrew from the area after confiscating weapons and ammunition.

The stand-off, which lasted throughout Saturday, came to an end with what officials described as a “mature decision” made by the operational commander. This decision took into account the sensitivity of employing kinetic force against a large, enraged mob led by women, as well as the potential casualties such action could cause.

One of the militants hiding in the village was identified as self-styled Lieutenant Colonel Moirangthem Tamba, also known as Uttam, a wanted terrorist who may have played a key role in the tragic Dogra ambush. However, due to the circumstances, the Army was unable to apprehend him.

Despite repeated appeals to the aggressive mob to allow security forces to proceed with their operation in accordance with the law, their efforts proved futile. Consequently, the Army made the difficult choice to withdraw, recognizing the imperative of avoiding collateral damage during the ongoing unrest in Manipur.

The northeastern state of Manipur has been grappling with ethnic violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities, resulting in more than 100 casualties thus far. The clashes initially erupted on May 3 during a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ held in the hill districts as a protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

Manipur’s population comprises approximately 53% Meiteis, primarily residing in the Imphal Valley, while the remaining 40% consists of Nagas and Kukis, who are predominantly tribal communities residing in the hill districts.

The Army’s decision to release the militants highlights the complexities and challenges faced by security forces when balancing the need to combat militancy while also safeguarding civilian lives. The situation in Manipur calls for a comprehensive approach to address the underlying issues and promote peace and harmony among different communities in the region.

Sources By Agencies

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