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Abduction of police official in restive Indian state risks new flareup of violence

Abduction of police official in restive Indian state risks new flareup of violence

Police officials in the restive Indian state of Manipur staged a symbolic protest on Wednesday by laying down their arms after a senior officer was abducted from his house by armed militants.

Tensions escalated in the northeastern state on Tuesday after additional superintendent of police Amit Singh was abducted by cadres allegedly belonging to a Meitei organisation in the state’s capital, Imphal. Around 200 armed people stormed the ASP’s residence and abducted him along with a staff member.

Though the Manipur police issued a statement that the officer was swiftly rescued, fresh tension mounted in the state, leading to the deployment of the Indian army and columns of paramilitary force, the Assam Rifles.

Manipur has been hit by fierce fighting since last May between members of the majority Meitei and minority Kuki communities over sharing economic benefits and quotas given to the tribes. As many as 219 people have been killed in the conflict nine-month-long conflict, earlier shared state’s governor Anusuiya Uikey.

The state has also lost revenue of up to Rs 80m (₤760,000) in the backdrop of violence that has displaced over 60,000 people.

Following the incident, police filed a case against the accused under anti-terror law – the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) – that allows authorities to detain people without charge or the production of any incriminating evidence for up to 180 days, and has particularly stringent requirements for gaining bail once charges have been brought.

“A case has been filed under sections of UAPA,” a senior police officer told The Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity. “They have also snatched a police gun, which is yet to be retrieved. The ASP and another person who were kidnapped were also assaulted,” he said, adding they are in the hospital at the moment.

Different sections of commandos belonging to Manipur Police staged an “arms down” protest in different parts of the valley, against the abduction as well as the support they are receiving from the locals.

“When the general public are present in a situation like that, the police also cannot respond fully to the perpetrators because innocent people will die,” a senior police officer told The Indian Express. “The protest is against the actions of the Arambai Tenggol but also against the public at large. It is also meant to urge those at the top to act seriously against these anti-social elements,” he said.