IMPHAL, May 27 (PTI): Army chief General Manoj Pande on Saturday arrived in Manipur to review the law and order situation as the state reported rising incidents of sporadic violence over the last few days, officials said.
Accompanied by GoC-in-C Eastern Command Lt Gen Rana Pratap Kalita, Gen Pande landed at the Bir Tikendrajit Imphal International Airport in the afternoon for his two-day visit to the state.
A heavy pose of security took the officers to the Assam Rifles’ IG headquarters at Mantripukhri in Imphal city.
A senior Army official told PTI that Gen Pande and Lt Gen Kalita reached the state capital from Delhi to review the ground situation on the backdrop of ongoing ethnic clashes.
“Gen Pande will meet the governor, chief minister and security advisor to discuss the situation,” he added.
Gen Pande and Lt Gen Kalita will also meet the ground commanders, including those from other forces, and review the law and order situation.
He will visit various areas to obtain a first-hand account of the situation and interact with the troops, the official said.
Gen Pande is scheduled to return on Sunday, while Lt Gen Kalita is likely to stay back for union home minister Amit Shah’s visit to the state from Monday, Army sources said.
Clashes broke out in Manipur after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts on May 3 to protest against the majority Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
The violence was preceded by tension over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, which had led to a series of smaller agitations.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals – Nagas and Kukis – constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.
The ethnic clashes claimed over 70 lives and left scores of people injured.
Around 140 columns of the Army and Assam Rifles, comprising over 10,000 personnel, besides other security forces had to be deployed to bring back normalcy in the Northeastern state.
Armed vigilante groups have been taking the law into their own hands in parts of the state, in the wake of ethnic rioting earlier, thus complicating the peace process. At times, militant groups have also joined in the fray, creating an even more volatile cocktail of ethnic tension.