Despite assurances from Chief Minister N Biren Singh to deploy adequate combined security forces in vulnerable zones, particularly in the peripheral areas of Imphal valley, for the protection of the villages, the villagers of Leitanpokpi in Imphal East say they are faced with repeated attacks by Kuki militants.
Early Monday morning, around 5 am, Kuki militants reportedly fired several rounds at Leitanpokpi village using sophisticated weapons. The attack lasted for nearly an hour, and the villagers defended themselves by firing back with their licensed guns.
When this reporter visited the village, the villagers showed the projectile of sniper fire that was fired at them by Kuki militants.
Allegedly, the Central forces deployed in the area remained passive spectators throughout the incident, as claimed by the villagers.
On the previous day, Kuki militants reportedly attacked the villagers during the early hours and set ablaze approximately nine houses. In the attack, two civilians lost their lives due to bullet injuries, while three others who sustained bullet wounds are currently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Imphal.
This village had already suffered a similar attack on the night of May 3, when suspected Kuki militants demolished and burned down around 23 houses.
In a remarkable display of resilience, the villagers took it upon themselves to protect their community from the Kuki militants by utilising their licensed guns, as they had lost faith in the effectiveness of the Central forces.
Narrating the events to the Imphal Free Press, a villager appealed to the government to deploy state forces in their village, citing the ineffectiveness of the Central forces in defending them.
Expressing concerns about the ongoing democratic protests in Imphal areas, the villagers urged the people of Imphal to understand that if the Kuki militants take control of the villages in the peripheral regions of the valley, they will easily advance towards Imphal.
"If sit-in protests and burning effigies can deter the Kuki militants from advancing, then I urge people to continue with such protests," the villager added.
Questioning the chief minister's statement regarding the restoration of peace and normalcy soon, the villager asked, "Will the government restore normalcy when we are dead?"
The villagers feel abandoned by thegovernment,t as they consider the lack of support from the Central forces during this critical time as failure and negligence on the part of the government. They implore the government to demonstrate genuine concern for the lives of its citizens and deploy state forces to protect them.
Simultaneously, womenfolk in the valley region took a proactive stance by occupying the streets leading to the peripheral areas of the valley, effectively obstructing the convoy of Central forces from entering those vulnerable regions.
The women passionately voiced their grievances, alleging that the Central forces exhibited a clear bias and seemed to favour the Kuki militants. They opined that whenever the Central forces were present, it often signaled the commencement of attacks by the Kuki militants. These assertions further fuelled their perception that the Central forces were not impartial in their actions and the situation is worsening.
By actively blocking the entry of the Central forces to the villages, the women sought to draw attention to their plight and the urgent need for a more effective and fair approach using state forces to ensure the safety and security of their community.
Their resolute stance underscored their mistrust in the Central forces and their firm belief that a change in strategy was necessary to combat the ongoing attacks and threats posed by the Kuki militants.
The actions of the protesting womenfolk serve as a reminder of the resilience and unity of the community as they navigate through these trying times, yearning for a solution that will truly safeguard their lives and restore peace in their village.