Two Manipur Police commandos were killed and two others injured in a militant attack on security forces in Manipur’s Moreh area, along the Myanmar border, on Wednesday, January 17 police said. Police officials in Imphal said that police commando Wangkhem Somorjit was killed and three others injured when suspected militants attacked the security forces while they were conducting search operations in Moreh. Subsequently, police commando Takhellambam Saileshwore succumbed to his injuries. Somorjit hails from Malom area while Saileshwore from Lamsang Akham in Imphals West district.
When the security personnel tried to shift the three injured security personnel to the hospital for medical treatment, some tribals, including women, tried to stop them. They clashed with the forces and several tribal people were injured in the fight.
Earlier police and the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), an apex body of tribals in Manipur, separately claimed that a woman was killed in the clash. Later in the evening, police said that the woman was unconscious for some time as she had sustained serious injuries, but she is alive and undergoing medical treatment at a hospital.
Heavy exchange of fire between the security forces and the suspected militants was reported in three different locations in Moreh since Wednesday morning, police said. The militants had also fired rocket-propelled grenades on the security forces. As tensions ran high, additional security forces, including Assam Rifles, rushed to the bordering areas to bring the situation under control.
Hundreds of protestors, including members of leading women's organisation Meira Paibis organised protest rallies demanding reinforcement of state forces in Moreh. The protestors marched towards the Chief Minister's official bungalow but were stopped by the security forces.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh, in wake of the Moreh incident, held a meeting with the top security officials to review the situation. The Manipur government has requested the Union Home Ministry to provide more helicopters to meet emergency requirements in the wake of the law and order situation in the border areas of Moreh, an official said.
Meanwhile, the Moreh-based Meetei Council, in a statement, urged the Union government and the state government to flush out the Kuki militants supported by the insurgents of Myanmar who are waging war against Indian security forces. The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), an apex body of the Meitei community, urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Manipur Chief Minister to swiftly address the security situation, enhance collaboration between state and central security forces, and take decisive measures to ensure the safety and security of the citizens in the border town of Moreh.
Fearing fresh violence, the district administration imposed a total curfew in the trouble-torn Tengnoupal district from Tuesday afternoon. "Following inputs of the likelihood of breach of peace, disturbance of public tranquillity and grave danger to human lives and property within the revenue jurisdiction of Tengnoupal district, total curfew was imposed," a notification said.
Meanwhile, as BJP leader Hemkholal Mate and former soldier, Philip Khaikholal Khongsai were arrested on Monday night from Moreh in connection with the killing of Sub-Divisional Police Officer Chingtham Anand Kumar in October last year, tribals in the border town on Tuesday demanded their release, while Imphal Valley witnessed widespread protests demanding handing over of the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and exemplary punishment to the detainees.
Since December 30, at least 10 Manipur Police commandos and a Border Security Force trooper have been injured in attacks by suspected Kuki militants at Moreh. Moreh is a very old and major trading town on the India-Myanmar border in Tengnoupal district. People from the Kuki, Meitei, Naga, Tamil, Pangal, Gorkha, Sikh and other communities have been residing for decades in peace and harmony in Moreh, which is just four km to the west of Myanmar’s largest border town Tamu and 110 km south of Imphal.