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Mob tries to gherao Union minister’s residence in Manipur

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IMPHAL, May 26 (PTI): A group of people tried to gherao the residence of Union Minister of State for External Affairs Rajkumar Ranjan Singh in Imphal East district claiming that the government in the strife-torn state is not doing enough to protect locals from militants belonging to another community, officials said on Friday.

At around 8 pm on Thursday the mob tried to gherao the residence of Singh in the Kongba area of the district but the security forces fired tear gas shells to disperse the mob, they said.

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The minister and his family members were not present at home during the incident.

There was no report of any damage to the minister’s house, the officials said.

Singh is a senior BJP leader and MP of the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha constituency.

There were reports of an exchange of fire between security forces and suspected Kuki militants on Thursday night in the Toronglaobi area in Bishnupur district.

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On Wednesday the house of Manipur PWD minister Konthoujam Govindas in Bishnupur district was attacked by a group of people claiming that the government is not doing enough to protect locals from militants belonging to another community.

Govindas who is a BJP leader and his family members, however, were not present at the house when the mob, comprising mostly women, attacked the house in the Ningthoukhong area and damaged a portion of a gate, windows, a few furniture and electronic gadgets.

This was for the first time a minister’s house was attacked during the ongoing ethnic violence between Meitei and Kuki community people in the state that started three weeks ago and claimed more than 70 lives. Army and paramilitary forces have been deployed to control the situation in the state.

Clashes broke out in Manipur after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts on May 3 to protest the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

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The violence in Manipur 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 some 10,000 army and paramilitary personnel had to be deployed to restore normalcy in the northeastern state.

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