Security agencies have consistently highlighted the recurring issue of arms being looted from police stations, although an exact aggregated number is currently unavailable.
Guwahati/New Delhi: Prior to Union minister Amit Shah’s visit to Imphal, following the emergence of ethnic violence in Manipur, a significant incident took place at 7.30pm on Sunday. Indian Army personnel intercepted a vehicle and seized an INSAS rifle, along with 60 rounds of ammunition, a hand grenade, and a detonator. As per an official statement from the army, the occupants of the vehicle had planned to execute an assault on security forces in the vicinity of the convention center in Imphal East. Despite the prevention of this malicious endeavor, the existence of such weapons underscores an escalating obstacle encountered by security forces in their efforts to restore peace in Manipur.
On Sunday, amidst ongoing violence in Manipur, particularly in the Imphal valley, there were reports of new instances of unrest. Mobs took advantage of the situation and ransacked multiple government armories, making off with stolen arms and ammunition.
“Mobs Attack Manipur Rifles and Police Stations, Steal Firearms in Imphal”
In a series of alarming incidents, unruly mobs forcefully entered the headquarters of the Manipur Rifles and Indian Reserve Battalions in Imphal East and West. They also targeted the Yairipok and Nongpok Sekmai police stations located in Thoubal. An anonymous senior police officer from Thoubal revealed, “The mob members engaged in widespread looting, seizing whatever they could get their hands on. In the Yairipok police station, they managed to infiltrate the armory and absconded with a total of 56 firearms. Additionally, in Nongpok Sekmai, they confiscated five guns from the police personnel stationed there.”
“Escalating Ethnic Violence Raises Concerns over Looted Arms in Manipur”
Since the commencement of ethnic violence on May 3, an exact aggregated number of arms looted from police stations and armories remains elusive. However, this recurring issue has been consistently highlighted by security agencies. On May 5, just two days after the initial outbreak of violence, Manipur DGP P Doungel expressed his concerns, stating, “There have been 7-8 incidents where groups consisting of over 5,000 individuals have looted arms from police personnel and armories. We earnestly urge the return of these weapons, or else we will be compelled to take tough actions.”
According to a senior officer from the Assam Rifles, who is stationed in Manipur and has been leading security operations, the issue at hand is not solely the quantity, but rather the type of weapons being used, which poses a significant challenge. The Manipur police currently utilize 5.56 mm INSAS rifles, and their armories also hold a substantial supply of Chinese AK-47 automatic rifles and Myanmar-manufactured M16 automatic rifles. These weapons were either surrendered by militant groups or confiscated from them during previous operations. This situation now presents a substantial obstacle, as stated by the officer.
“Enhanced Security Measures and Paramilitary Support in Protecting Armories in Imphal West”
According to an officer from the One Manipur Rifles (1MR) battalion stationed in Imphal West, efforts are underway to ensure the safety of armories. The security personnel have intensified their vigilance around the armory premises and are diligently safeguarding the weapons. Fortunately, no firearms were stolen from the 1MR battalion. However, there have been reports of looting at the 2MR battalion as well as in Imphal West. To reinforce security measures, paramilitary forces have been actively assisting in these operations, providing valuable support.