Manipur Violence: Over 200 houses, including that of a Congress MLA, were set on fire by suspected militants at Serou in Kakching district on Friday night.

New Delhi: For over a week, Manipur’s Sugnu town has now remained the key area of confrontation between the two communities at loggerheads in the northeastern state, where sporadic violence has continued for over a month. Over 200 houses, including that of Kangujam Ranjit, Congress MLA from Sugnu Assembly, were set on fire by suspected militants at Serou in Kakching district on Friday night. Locals have reported constant gunfire, bomb attacks, and even snipers since Friday.

Irate villagers then set ablaze an abandoned camp in Sugnu, where militants from the United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF) were staying after signing a peace accord with the government, news agency PTI said quoting the police on Monday.

On Sunday before the arson attack, combined forces of state police including the India Reserve Battalion, and Border Security Force along with village volunteers had fought a gun battle with militants at the Nazareth camp which led to the militants fleeing their camp.

Those who have received bullet injuries in the ongoing exchange of fire were rushed to the District Hospital in Churachandpur, sources have told NDTV. The hill district of Churachandpur also remains a crucial area where violence has been reported since the start of the ethnic conflict.

Home Minister Amit Shah had yesterday appealed to all communities to remove the road blockage, especially to lift the blockades at the Imphal-Dimapur National Highway-2, to ensure the supply of essential items. The highway, which crosses through the Senapati district in the hills and comes down to the capital Imphal in the valley, is the sole route for the transport of supplies to various parts of the state. The blockade of the highway is not new in Manipur, and essential supplies are hit, making everything a lot more expensive.

Amit Shah’s earlier appeal of surrendering arms was successful as a lot of guns were surrendered soon after. More than 2,000 weapons — including AK-47s, INSAS Rifles, tear-gas, sten guns, a grenade launcher and a range of pistols — were looted from the police armoury after ethnic violence erupted a month ago.

Shortly after Mr Shah’s visit, the Central government formed a three-member commission to investigate the ethnic violence. Justice Ajai Lamba, former Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court, will lead the commission. The other members will be Himanshu Shekhar Das, a retired bureaucrat, and Aloka Prabhakar, former Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau. The Commission has to submit its final report within six months.

The Kuki tribals have been demanding a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

At least 98 people have lost their lives and 310 others have been injured in the ethnic violence that broke out on May 3 after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

A total of 37,450 people are currently sheltered in 272 relief camps.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in and around the Imphal Valley. Tribals, including Kukis, constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.

Around 10,000 Army and Assam Rifles personnel have been deployed in the state to restore peace.