GUWAHATI: A Kuki-Zo tribal was killed during a pre-dawn gunfight between two groups in Manipur on Saturday as the violence in the strife-torn state continued.
The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) identified the 21-year-old deceased as Khupminthang of Phaikholum village. He was a village volunteer, the tribal organisation said.
The gunbattle occurred at Joupi, a Kuki-Zo village in the Kangpokpi district bordering Bishnupur district in the Imphal valley. The ITLF said the assailants had fired from sophisticated weapons but the Kuki-Zo village volunteers stood their ground, defending the village with single-barrel rifles.
Tension gripped the villagers on both sides of the Kangpokpi-Bishnupur border following the incident as they apprehended further attacks and counter-attacks. Security was beefed up in the areas.
After the incident, the Kuki Students’ Organisation declared a lightning closure of shops in Churachandpur district. Its general secretary DJ Haokip said the deceased was the only son of a widowed woman.The attack was carried out after two other Kuki-Zo tribals were killed in an ambush by unidentified gunmen in the Kangpokpi district on Monday.
After the duo’s killings, the Committee on Tribal Unity had declared a shutdown in the district. Meanwhile, three Kuki-Zo MLAs in the state have been “replaced” as chairpersons of Assembly committees.
The Assembly secretariat issued separate notifications on the fresh appointments but did not cite any reasons why the trio was replaced. Rule 198 (2) of the Assembly says, “If the chairman is for any reason unable to act, the Speaker may appoint another chairman in his place.”
Two of the legislators replaced are former director general of police-turned-politician LM Khaute and Vungzagin Valte, both from ruling BJP, while the third – Haokholet Kipgen – is an independent legislator.
On May 3, the day the ethnic violence broke out, Valte was grievously injured after being attacked by a mob and flown to Delhi for treatment.All 10 Kuki-Zo MLAs, including seven from BJP, have been staying away from the Imphal valley due to security reasons.