Amidst the escalating incidents of sporadic violence in Manipur, Army Chief General Manoj Pande arrived in the state on May 27 to review the law and order situation. Accompanied by Lt Gen Rana Pratap Kalita, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GoC-in-C) of the Eastern Command, Gen Pande landed at the Bir Tikendrajit Imphal International Airport in the afternoon for his two-day visit.
With heightened security measures in place, the officers were escorted to the headquarters of the Assam Rifles' Inspector General (IG) in Mantripukhri, located in Imphal city. A senior Army official said that the purpose of Gen Pande and Lt Gen Kalita's visit was to assess the ground situation amidst ongoing ethnic clashes. "Gen Pande will meet the governor, chief minister, and security advisor to discuss the situation," the official added.
During their visit, Gen Pande and Lt Gen Kalita are scheduled to meet with ground commanders, including representatives from other security forces, to review the law and order situation. They will also visit various areas to gain a firsthand account of the situation and interact with the troops deployed in the region, the official further stated.
While Gen Pande is expected to return on May 28, Lt Gen Kalita is likely to remain in Manipur for the upcoming visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, commencing on May 29.
The clashes in Manipur originated following a 'Tribal Solidarity March' held in the hill districts on May 3, which was organized to protest against the demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status by the majority Meitei community. The violence erupted after tensions arose over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, leading to a series of smaller agitations.
Manipur's population comprises approximately 53 percent Meiteis, primarily residing in the Imphal Valley, while Nagas and Kukis, accounting for 40 percent, constitute the tribal population residing in the hill districts. The ethnic clashes have resulted in over 70 casualties and numerous injuries. To restore normalcy in the state, more than 10,000 personnel from the Army, Assam Rifles, and other security forces were deployed, totaling around 140 columns.
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