Curfew in parts of India’s Manipur after protests over killing of students

Dozens of students injured in violence following protests over alleged abduction and murder of two Meitei students, officials say.

India Manipur
A police officer fires a tear smoke shell to disperse people protesting over the killing of the students in Imphal [File: Reuters]

Authorities have imposed a curfew in the capital and some other places in India’s restive state of Manipur after dozens of students were injured in violence following protests against the alleged abduction and murder of two students.

Ethnic violence has plunged the northeastern state bordering Myanmar into what many security experts describe as an intense civil war fought over land, jobs and political clout between its two largest local groups.

“Indefinite curfew had to be implemented in Imphal and in some other districts,” L Kailun, a senior police official posted in Imphal, said on Thursday.

More than 80 students were injured in Wednesday’s clashes, another police official said on condition of anonymity, adding that the situation was “extremely tense” after armed mobs vandalised an office of the governing party and hurled petrol bombs at the police parties.

Mobile internet services have been suspended in the state for five days, officials said.

Since the violence first erupted on May 3, more than 180 people have been killed and some 50,000 have fled their homes in Manipur.

More than half the state’s population of 3.2 million belongs to the mainly Hindu Meitei community, while the Kuki-Zo community, who make up about 40 percent, are predominantly Christian and live mostly in the hills.

Protests reignited over the alleged kidnapping and killing of two students of the Meitei community who had gone missing in July after their bodies were found this week. The news went viral, reviving the ethnic tension.

The state’s chief minister, N Biren Singh, who is a leader of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), denounced the alleged murders and promised maximum punishment for the culprits.

Members of the students’ families and Meitei leaders have accused Kuki-Zo fighters of killing the duo and criticised authorities for failing to end the violence.

A spokesperson for a Kuki-Zo civil society group said it did not have an immediate comment to offer over the latest killings.

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.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies