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Manipur: Over 4,000 weapons snatched from armouries, Army ready with combing operation plan 

Nearly 500 weapons, out of the 1,014, which were snatched on May 4 and 5 were recovered but the remaining weapons remained traceless
Last Updated : 02 June 2023, 15:52 IST
Last Updated : 02 June 2023, 15:52 IST
Last Updated : 02 June 2023, 15:52 IST
Last Updated : 02 June 2023, 15:52 IST

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The Army on Friday said they are ready for a "large scale combing operation" to recover the weapons, which were snatched from Manipur police armouries during the Meitei-Kuki riot since May 3 while officials in the state said that the number of such weapons could be around 4,000.

Sources in the Manipur government told DH on Friday that the snatched weapons included INSAS rifles, AK 47 rifles, pistols and grenade launchers, which are used by the Manipur police battalions. The source said 1,014 weapons were snatched on May 4 and 5 while nearly 3,000 such weapons were snatched during violence that occured on May 28 in Imphal, Thoubal and in Tengnoupal districts. Miscreants belonging to both Meitei and Kuki communities were involved in the arms snatching, said the source.

The source further said nearly 500 weapons, out of the 1,014, which were snatched on May 4 and 5 were recovered but the remaining weapons remained traceless. The same were not returned or surrendered despite appeals by CM N. Biren Singh several times.

Kuldip Singh, who heads the Unified Command, told news agency ANI on Friday that 144 weapons were surrendered since Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday made an appeal to all to surrender such weapons. This includes INSAS, AK-47 and M-16 rifles and grenade launchers.

The source said the Centre took this as a very serious issue as snatching such a large number of weapons could be very dangerous.

Shah on Thursday said the security force would launch a combing operation in search of the weapons. At least 75 people have died and over 35,000 others rendered homeless due to the riot involving sections of Meitei and the Kuki communities. Organisations of both the communities alleged involvement of insurgent groups (belonging to both Meitei and the Kuki) in the violence.

The army and other security agencies controlled the riot but the missing weapons have become a concern for the security agencies as well as those living in the relief camps. They fear that the militants might use such weapons if the villagers go back to their homes. Biren Singh earlier had made appeals for surrender of such weapons several times. He had even made an offer that the government would not take legal action against those surrendering such weapons.

Army Operation:

A statement issued by the Army on Friday said that they are ready with a plan for "large scale combing operation" in search of the snatched weapons and to enforce the ground rules of Suspension of Operation agreement by Kuki insurgent groups.

"Intelligence sources have been energised and dedicated columns kept on standby to ensure quick action on receipt of input for early recovery of weapons. Detailed plans have been prepared for implementation with immediate effect," said the statement.

It said a surprise check of camps of Kuki insurgent groups in Suspension of Operation Agreement will also be undertaken. to ensure the presence of weapons & cadres as stipulated in the agreement. Meitei organisations alleged involvement of the Kuki insurgent groups in the violence and demanded cancellation of the agreement. Shah on Thursday said the government would be compelled to cancel such an agreement if the ground rules are violated.

Shah was in Manipur since Monday evening and held talks with leaders of both Meitei and Kuki communities in order to restore peace and bridge the distrust that pushed the Northeastern state into a turmoil.

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Published 02 June 2023, 15:52 IST

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