A violent clash between a local group and some residents of Lilong in Thoubal district of Manipur left four Muslim men dead and 11 injured on Monday, said SM Jalal, President of the All Manipur Muslim Organisations Co-ordinating Committee (AMMOCOC).
The victims, all belonging to the Meitei Pangal (Muslim) community of Waithou Chingjao, were allegedly attacked by members of the Arambai Tenggol group over a monetary dispute.
According to a video circulated on social media, the incident took place when the Arambai Tenggol group demanded money from Md Hussain, a prominent figure in the locality.
The situation escalated into a physical altercation, leading to the killing of four men belonging to the Pangal (Muslim) community and leaving 11 others injured.
The bodies of the deceased that were taken to a post-mortem examination at Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal, have been identified as Md Daulat (30), M Sirajuddin (50), Md Azad Khan (40), and Md Hussain (22).
The aftermath of this dispute saw a wave of violence, with several vehicles, mostly Maruti Gypsys, being set ablaze in the area, as reported by the local news website Ukhrul Times. It was not immediately known to whom those vehicles belonged.
The Arambai Tenggol group, however, has denied any involvement in the incident and claimed that their name was being used to malign their reputation.
In a press release issued on Monday, the group said that they had no connection with the violence and urged the authorities to conduct a fair investigation.
Meitei Leepun, a prominent civil society organization, has strongly condemned the regrettable incident, expressing deep sorrow over the loss of lives. The organisation said that the incident was unfortunate, especially at a time when the state was facing the threat of narco-terrorism. The Meitei Leepun also offered its assistance to the authorities in identifying and punishing the culprits.
Meanwhile, through a video response, Manipur CM N. Biren Singh made it clear that the government would not tolerate such barbaric acts and appealed to the people of the state, especially those living in the valley districts and Lilong, to maintain peace and harmony.
“I express my immense sadness over the killing of innocent people. We have mobilised police teams to catch the culprits. I fold my hands and appeal to the residents of Lilong to help the government in finding the culprits. I promise that the government will do everything in its power to give justice under the law,” Singh said.
The Chief Minister Singh declared an indefinite curfew across all six districts of the Imphal valley, aiming to forestall any potential increase in violence.
He also appealed the people of Lilong to cooperate with the police in tracking down the culprits and called on the attackers to surrender themselves.
The incident has sparked tension and fear among the people of Lilong, which is a predominantly Muslim area. The area has witnessed several incidents of communal violence in the past, especially between the Meitei Pangals and the Meitei Hindus.