Even as Union Home Minister Amit Shah cancelled all his meetings in poll-bound Karnataka, in view of the widespread unrest in Manipur, the Central Government on Friday imposed Article 355 in the state. Article 355 is an emergency provision that empowers the Centre to take all necessary steps to protect a state against internal disturbances and external aggression.
Bolstered by the imposition of the special provision, the DGP said "the situation in Manipur is expected to be brought under control in a day or two." However, as of Friday, the situation remained grim with intermittent gunfights being reported in the morning hours from various hill districts surrounding the valley.
Even more worrisome was that besieged communities were fleeing Manipur; the violence between the majority Meiteis and tribals over the demand of the former for ST status has displaced thousands of people. In some hamlets, almost everyone has fled.
Several families head to Assam
What is causing concern is that the neighbouring states are also getting drawn into the ring of fire. The Meghalaya government has already said it is taking steps to evacuate its citizens, including students. Several families affected by the frenzy have sought refuge in Assam. More than 1000 people from the State have entered the Cachar district of Assam to take shelter, reports ANI.
The Indian Air Force undertook continuous sorties from two airfields in Assam to assist in evacuation of civilians from affected areas continued throughout the night.
The ADGP told the media that over 20,000 affected people have been evacuated.
Ethnic violence, which has engulfed Manipur over the last few days, was brewing for some time as there is a long history of mutual suspicion between ethnic groups in the Imphal valley and its surrounding hills; the anger and deep-seated animosity turned into a simmering conflict after the BJP-led Manipur government started a drive to evict tribal villagers from reserved forests.
Meanwhile, all trains to Manipur have been cancelled with immediate effect and internet services remained suspended.
There has been no let-up in violence and two shopping malls were vandalised and torched by an angry mob in Imphal on Thursday evening. A three-time tribal MLA was assaulted by a mob and is believed to be critical. The Congress has demanded President's rule in the strife-torn state.
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