Bullets fired by KNLA cadres Credit: EastMojo image

Imphal: Even as the Manipur Legislative Assembly is on in full swing amid tight security cover, a tiny village in Manipur is demanding security protection from the state government following incidents of an armed group forcing villagers to vacate their houses.

According to locals of village H Hengjang in Kangpokpi district, the first incident was reported on the midnight of February 6 this year, when an armed group of 10 or more people brandishing automatic assault rifles ambushed and ransacked one of the houses in the village.

The H Hengjang village has about 30 households with a population of 150.

The armed group, identified as the Kuki National Liberation Army (KNLA), is headed by Paotinthang alias Paotin Kipgen, one of the accused in the murder of Thangkhotinlet Kipgen in 2019, the then village head of K Hengjang, locals said.

Paotin Kipgen and another person from the armed group, Ngamkhogin Kipen, were convicted in the case and lodged at Sajiwa Jail before they were set free on bail by the Court, they said.

Speaking to EastMojo, K Hengjang village chief Ngamkholal Kipgen said the armed group forcefully entered the village and threatened the armless villagers to vacate their houses and relocate to another location.

A vehicle damaged by the armed group

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“They entered the residence of my late brother’s family and ransacked the house by destroying the furniture and other household properties, including steel almirah and a washing machine,” said Ngamkholal.

The armed group then went on a rampage and terrified villagers, especially women and children, by openly firing a number of bullet rounds in the air. They even fired bullets at the vehicles parked nearby, Ngamkholal said.

“We were forced to hide in the paddy fields for several nights before we took shelter at Bongbal Khullen village. Many of us stayed without food since we don’t have alternate source for ration supply after the militants took over our village at gun point,“ said Ngamkholal.

Despite an FIR that was filed by the village headman about the incident at Imphal East Police Station on February 7 and request for police protection, no combing operation has been carried out in the village to flush out the militants from the area, locals have alleged.

A team of police visited the village on February 10, but left after the spot investigation, Ngamkholal said.

“We requested them (police) to station at our village till the situation was calm again. But we were informed that they don’t have any such orders from the higher authorities,” said Ngamkholal.

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A shop being destroyed the armed group

Amid hardships, locals are hopeful that the state authorities will intervene in the situation and help flush out insurgents from the region.

When contacted, Imphal East Superintendent of Police H Jogeshchandra said the department is continuously carrying out patrolling in the area. “At night, however, it is difficult due to the terrain and also the fact that accommodation for the police personnel is difficult to manage,” he said.

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