Many villagers settled in the fringe areas of the valley are living in fear and uncertainty as they guard their villages from possible attacks by militant groups under the SoO (Suspension of Operation) while hoping that the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) will come to their rescue.
Despite the fear of being killed in an attack by SoO militants, many are not ready to abandon their villages yet. Although the security advisor to the Manipur government, Kuldiep Singh, informed the media that the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) and paramilitary forces, which arrived in the state, have been deployed in the periphery areas, villagers residing in vulnerable zones such as Leitanpokpi, Pukhao, and Santipur in Imphal East and Tera Khutsangbi and Tronglaobi in Bishnupur district said they have not seen a single CAPF personnel deployed in the area yet.
Men in Leitanpokpi village in Imphal East, whose houses were allegedly torched by SoO militants on May 4, have still not vacated the village. Women and children have been evacuated to safe zones (relief camps). In all, 23 houses in the village were said to have been torched.
Using all the available weapons, including some license guns, they have been guarding the village round the clock, even to the extent of causing danger to their lives in order to defend their village.
“It is unfortunate that the CAFP which were sent to Manipur, are being confined only in Imphal to guard the VVIP, while the civilian villagers are left alone to defend their villages from the militants under SoO,” said Salam Joy Singh of Leitanpokpi while speaking to the Imphal Free Press.
He pointed out that security forces are being deployed only in the Dolaithabi area (neighbouring village). He stressed the need for deploying security personnel at the foothills surrounding the village, which can be an easy route for SoO militants to enter.
If the government considers letting the villagers defend themselves, it should opt to supply standard guns to the villagers to fight against the militants, he said.
If the government really considers bringing back normalcy in the state, they should first take care of the SoO militants, who have become a grave threat to the civilians, he added.
Fortunately, as many as 65 CRPF personnel were deployed in the surrounding area of Tera Khutsangbi on Thursday night, soon after a personnel of Manipur police commando succumbed to a bullet injury during an attack by suspected SoO militants in Tronglaobi (neighbouring village).
Had the government deployed the forces earlier, such an attack might not have taken place, said Salam Romio, a villager.
Concerning the reported abduction of three individuals and the injury of one by suspected militants under SoO at Torbung Bangla in Bishnupur district, the villagers blamed the “untimely response of the security personnel.”
The three individuals would have been saved from those militants had the police intervened timely, a local said, adding that due to a 30-minute delay in police response, their whereabouts are yet to found.
Also Read: Water woes add to sufferings of people in violence-hit Manipur