Mob tries to storm chief minister's ancestral house in Manipur, India

Tensions in the north-eastern state are high and ongoing violence shows no signs of abating

A mob of protesters burnt tyres as they protested near the ancestral home of chief minister N Biren Singh, in Imphal in India's northeastern state of Manipur, amid ongoing ethnic violence. AFP
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The situation in India’s north-eastern state of Manipur was tense on Friday after a mob tried to storm the chief minister’s empty ancestral house.

New protests over the death of two teenagers affected several parts of the strife-torn region.

An angry mob of 500 protesters tried to attack N Biren Singh's ancestral house on the outskirts of the capital, Imphal, at about 10:30pm on Thursday.

They were rebuffed by security forces who fired in the air and lobbed tear-gas shells.

The house was empty because Mr Singh lives at his official residence in the same city.

“Security forces stopped the mob around 100-150 metres away from the house … two groups of people came from different directions and approached the chief minister's ancestral house, but they were stopped," said Pramesh Arambam, a senior police officer.

Authorities had switched off the electricity in the entire area to reduce visibility and installed more barricades near the house to stop the mob.

Widespread protests broke out in several parts of the state after photographs of the bodies of two teenagers were posted on social media two months after they went missing.

Hijam Linthoingambi, 17, who is from the Hindu Meitei community, had gone for tutorials on July 6 and was later seen on surveillance cameras with a male friend, Phijam Hemanjit, 20, on his motorcycle.

They were allegedly kidnapped and killed by members of the rival Kuki community, although their bodies have yet to be found.

More than 150 people have been killed in the remote state since armed clashes broke out in May between the predominantly Hindu Meitei majority and the mainly Christian Kuki community.

Protesters on Wednesday burnt effigies of Mr Biren, leading to more than 60 people being injured after they clashed with armed forces who lobbed tear gas shells and fired rubber pellets.

Mobile internet services have been suspended in the state for five days.

Both communities accuse the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party for its failure to curb the violence, which has continued for five months.

About 40 per cent of the state's population, mostly tribal people such as the Kukis, have traditionally inhabited the hilly areas that make up 90 per cent of the land.

The Meiteis, who account for more than half of the population, dominate the valley areas that, although only 10 per cent of the land area, are highly fertile.

Meiteis have historically controlled both political and economic power. This power imbalance is another trigger point for the Kukis for the distrust in the majority community.

Updated: September 29, 2023, 11:52 AM