Pangal Muslim village evacuated in Manipur amid heavy gunfights

Photo: Sahid Faris/Maktoob

A Pangal Muslim village, in the flashpoint of heavy gunfights since Sunday afternoon between Manipur’s warring ethnic groups, is evacuated, leaving about a thousand people stranded.

Islamabad, ward 8 in Kwakta Municipal Council, have become the frontline of Meitei armed groups, Maktoob can confirm. A mosque have been turning into a bunker, drawing ire from Pangals.

A compound with four houses in the village was bombed on Sunday morning. Yahya Khan, 70, said they had shifted to a relative’s home on Saturday since the firing began in the latest flare up of the ongoing conflict.

The village, located less than a kilometre from the Kuki bunkers, are occupied by Meitei armed groups. Maktoob visited the village two days ago and confirm the presence of central forces stationed next to the mosque occupied by Meitei groups. A Kuki Village Defence Volunteer who we met at the Kuki bunker was among the five people who were killed on Saturday.

Central forces can be seen unbothered by civilians moving to the frontline with military grade weapons, possibly looting by the Meitei group on 03 August.

A shop next to the Border Security Forces camp in the entry point of the road leading to Islamabad was burnt down by Meitei mob, with no resistance from the forces, an eye witness told Maktoob.

Members of the Meira Paibis, a powerful vigilante group of Meitei women, were seen trying to block a vehicle of Assam Rifles to entering the road to the village.

The families who fled are relocated to in their relative’s houses for the night. The displaced people have appealed for a relief camp.

No casualties have been reported amidst continuous firing and frequent blast heard from Kwakta Bazar.

Pangal Muslims in Kwakta had set up two relief camps for Meitei displaced people since the conflict began on May 3. One of them got discontinued on Saturday due to volatile situation near the camp. Family members of the three Meiteis, who were killed in latest flare-up, were put up in that camp.

Over 65 Meiteis have taken shelter in a under construction building owned by a Pangal Muslims.

At least 187 people were killed in the ongoing violence, says government data. According to the Kuki Students Organisation president’s statement to Maktoob, the violence in the northeastern state has resulted in the deaths of at least 135 Kukis, with half a dozen reported cases of rapes against Kuki women. Over 200 Kukis remain missing, and their whereabouts are yet to be known, he said.

Nearly 60,000, mostly Kukis, have been forced to flee their homes.