As many as 22 people were reportedly injured in an intense scuffle between the Kuki and Zo community in Churachandpur district after a small group of Zo fanatics attempted to raise the Zomi flag and spray ZOGAM (Zoland) near the memorial stone of Thingkangphai Village, a Kuki village situated amidst Zo communities around 9.15 pm on Monday.
As per police reports, the scuffle involving 50-60 individuals escalated with more than 1,000 Zo people gathering aggressively, vociferously protesting near the chief’s house in Thingkangphai at around 9.35 pm. Sensing the potential for a significant clash, Kuki residents from the Northern side of town (Tuibong area) began marching towards Thingkangphai, said the reports.
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Officers along with Quick Response Team (QRT) units of Churachandpur District Police, reached Thingkangphai and successfully dispersed the crowd. The situation came under control and the dispersed crowd was effectively managed with continuous police deployment. Six individuals including two Kuki and four Zo sustained minor injuries and were promptly taken to Churachandpur District Hospital and were discharged after receiving first aid.
Reports added that another confrontation unfolded at Selmat bridge, the border between Kuki and Zo people. A police team, initially positioned between the two communities, managed the situation for a brief period before the Rapid Action Force (RAF) intervened.
Despite both groups pelting stones at each other, the RAF timely fired tear gas shells, effectively quelling the violence and preventing further escalation. Both sides were dispersed through public announcements at around 12.50 am on Tuesday. A total of 22 persons were reported injured, with three to four individuals sustaining head injuries but are stable, said the report.
To address the situation, the Superintendent of Police (SP) Churachandpur convened a meeting involving community leaders to discuss and find a resolution on Tuesday at 11 am. In the meantime, police and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been deployed at critical locations, ensuring that the situation remains under control.
Our Churachandpur correspondent has added that the DC of Churachandpur clamped Cr PC 144 while the Zomi Students’ Federation called for an indefinite shutdown on Tuesday, as a result of which vehicles remained off the road while school and offices were closed and normal life affected.
The grand chief of Hiangtam Lamka, G Thangkhosuanmung and chief of Zenhang Lamka, Letkhochinthang issued a condemnation note of the incident, stating that they condemn the incident in the highest terms. Young Paite Association, Lamka block also condemned the incident, calling it an act of miscreants attempting to disrupt peace and tranquillity in and around Hiangtam Lamka.
To avoid escalation of tension with serious apprehensions of breaching of law and order, Churachandpur DC also requested suspension of internet/mobile internet in the whole revenue jurisdiction of Churachandpur district.
Regarding the incident which involved Kuki and Zomi Students, the KSO general headquarters sought forgiveness at the office of the Zomi Council Steering Committee in the evening.
The KSO and ZSF made a joint declaration, stating that in the light of the escalation of tension and insinuation of violence on the part of KSO student leaders which rendered several innocent Zomi civilian injured, the KSO tendered an apology on behalf of the violent mob to the ZSF.
The joint declaration also added that the ZSF accepts the apology as per their traditional custom tendered by KSO in regards to the unfortunate event. Henceforth, both student organisations resolved to uphold peaceful co-existence and mutual respect and that no individual or group shall invoke or insinuate such kind of hatred among the communities, it added.