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Stand-off in Imphal East’s Itham ends as Army leaves with seized weapons- The New Indian Express

By PTI

IMPHAL: After a stand-off between a mob led by women and security forces that had cordoned off Itham village in Imphal East where a dozen members of militant group KYKL were hiding, the Army took “a mature decision” to not risk civilian lives and left with seized weapons and ammunition, officials said on Sunday.

The Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), a Meitei militant group, was involved in a number of attacks, including the ambush of a 6 Dogra unit in 2015, they said.

The stand-off in Itham went on throughout Saturday, and ended after a “mature decision by the operational commander keeping in view the sensitivity of the use of kinetic force against a large irate mob led by women and likely casualties due to such action”, they added.

Among those holed up in the village was self-styled Lt Col Moirangthem Tamba alias Uttam, a wanted terrorist who may have been the mastermind of the Dogra ambush tragedy, officials said.

The 1,500-strong mob led by women surrounded the Army column and prevented forces from going ahead with the operation, they said.

“Repeated appeals to the aggressive mob to let the security forces carry on with operation as per law did not yield any positive result,” officials said.

The Army’s decision to leave was taken, keeping in mind the need to “avoid any collateral damage during the ongoing unrest in Manipur”.

More than 100 people have lost their lives in the ethnic violence between Meitei and Kuki communities in the northeastern state so far.

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

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. 

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