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Visual evidence, public record show huge cache of arms looted from Manipur Police

Almost half a year into the Manipur violence, questions still remain unanswered as to the actual quantity of weapons looted by the agitated mob from the arsenal of the security forces.

The Manipur police along with security forces uncovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition in their search operations targeting areas like Thoubal, Kakching, Kangpokpi, Bishnupur and Churachandpur on 24 October. During another operation of similar kind, the state police joined hands with the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) personnel and seized weapons, drugs, and cash from the Myanmar-based militant group Chin-Kuki Liberation Army (CKLA) in Churachandpur.

Gleaning from the total of 27 publicly available FIRs registered in numerous police stations, India Today attempts to unravel a vast hoard of ammunition being plundered by rioters across various districts in Manipur. At the outset of conflict, the mob which grew uncontrollably violent looted a large number of weapons in order to spread outrage further in their neighbouring areas, as deduced through publicly available FIRs from the Manipur Police online portal.

Out of the weapons snatched by the unruly mob from the police arsenal, SLR, 9mm pistols, .303, Ghaatak, INSAS and AK assault rifles remain the most common among all.

Data from the publicly accessible FIRs indicate, at least 1792 number of these six weapons have been reportedly looted. The actual number of total arms is likely to be much higher than that.

These guns have been largely seen in a bunch of strife videos agitating the two prominent communities to take up arms, of which the most notorious remains the viral footage of the May 4 incident.

Apparently, most of the FIRs regarding weapons being taken away forcefully were witnessed being filed from Porompat (Imphal East district) and Yairipok (Thoubal district) sub-divisions. Thereafter, Waikhong (Kakching district) and Singngat (Churachandpur district) sub-divisions remain in the second position of most filed FIRs.

Other sophisticated equipment stolen includes tear smoke shells, bulletproof helmets and armour, night vision binoculars, among others. Aside from that, the bayonet, excalibur and pistols constituted other comparatively smaller weapons.

The deteriorating situation in the north-eastern state has proven to an extent how the fate of even police personnel has led them to become the oppressed themselves as a result of unruly hooligans encircling the police stations with an intent to exacerbate incidents of violence.

As per the available data on the Manipur police website, Imphal East tops among the list of districts which remain the most stricken with arms theft, followed by Kakching, Churachandpur, Thoubal, Bishnupur and Imphal West.

The two police stations with most lodged FIRs were found to be Heingang (4 public FIRs) and Sagolmang (4 public FIRs) police posts, succeeded by Singngat and Wangoo with 3 public FIRs each.

Keeping in view the possibility of an even more dire situation engulfing the state in the ensuing days as the two communities use deadly weapons like mortar against one another, the government decided to impose an internet ban starting from 5 May until 23 September. However, the ban was soon extended to October 26, soon after the images of two missing students’ bodies were circulated online, leading to further mayhem.

Weapons stolen in large amounts are often seen in the local footage circulated on X where, in one video, the mob appears to walk pompously swinging guns likely to be .303 rifles. While in the second footage, a bunch of armed men are seen on the roofs of multiple gypsy cars with INSAS and SLR rifles in their hands.

Few, in the absence of such advanced weaponry, have even resorted to using modified or handmade regional weapons out of electric poles or galvanised iron (GI) pipes as per media reports. Some of these arms even have a name in their native language.

‘Bampi’, for instance, is a local cannon which is loaded with improvised bullets made up of scrap iron or other similar metals. While, ‘Thihnang’ is a sort of muzzle-loading gun, as it is usually defined.

Thihnang is believed to be the gun given to Kukis by the British honouring their undeterred resistance during the Anglo-Kuki war.

Often, when a conflict draws nearer, the crowd wisdom suggests doing what one may feel like as almost the entire herd is following the same trend.

Nearly a month after the initiation of the state conflict, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had appealed to the Manipur people to surrender all looted arms in order to reinstate tranquility in the region, following which many tribal youths had discarded weapons like SLR, Carbine, AK, INSAS, .303 rifle, pistols, M16 rifle etc in the gun drop boxes placed in certain parts of Manipur.

Edited By:

Sudeep Lavania

Published On:

Oct 25, 2023

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