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District Administrations Fail to Collect Licensed Guns From Public Even as Election-Related Gun Violence Continue Unabated

Despite the order of the Home Department of Manipur Government to collect licensed arms from the general public before the arrival of the upcoming Manipur Assembly elections, District Administrations cannot collect even upto 50 percent of the licensed guns.

Even before the issue of election notification by the Election Commission of India (ECI) and announcement of the list of the candidates of the political parties in Manipur, election-related violent activities claimed lives and injured many.

The political rivalry between the aspiring candidates manifested in the forms of violence as early as October 11 last year.

The violent clash between workers of former minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar in the present Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government and aspiring candidate of Andro Lourembam Sanjoy broke out on October 11, 2021. In the violent clash during the election rally in Yairipok Yambem area of Imphal East district on Monday October 11, six persons were injured, most of them with pellet wounds.

Singjamei Assembly Constituency in the heart of Imphal city and Naoriya Pakhanglakpa Assembly Constituency in Imphal West district followed Andro Assembly Constituency in violent political clashes.

Notably, in the outbreak of violent political clashes between the rival parties or candidates Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren who also holds the portfolio of Home Department condemned the violent incidents. He further appealed on October 12 to shun violence in election-related activities and warned that if anyone instigates any kind of violence or attacks on any individual or organisation, the law enforcing agencies would take stern action against that person.

However, the appeal and warning from the Chief Minister couldn’t stop election-related violent activities; rather it spread like wildfire in other Assembly Constituencies too.

Series of violent incidents happened in Heirok Assembly Constituency in Thoubal District. Hand grenade attack by unknown miscreants at the residence of National People’s Party (NPP) intending candidate of Heirok AC, Ningthoujam Diten at Ukhongsang Mayai Leikai on October 22 was reported.

The violent clashes between rival political groups including assault by Congress workers allegedly on a district correspondent of a local vernacular newspaper on October 24 morning last year in Heirok Assembly Constituency in Thoubal district spread like wild fire.

Following the incident, even after the imposition of prohibition order under CrPC 144 in the whole of Heirok Village area in Thoubal District by the district administration, BJP workers allegedly destroyed three houses of Congress workers of the area on October 25 night at Heirok Part II, Thokchom Leikai in Thoubal district. The house of Thokchom Noren was destroyed and vandalised by BJP workers allegedly.

After the October 25 night incident in Heirok, the state government has deployed additional security forces to monitor the situation. One companies each of Border Security Forces (BSF) and Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF), as well as additional forces of Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB), have been deployed to monitor and control any unwanted incidents in connection with the upcoming election.

Following the increasing election-related violent incidents, the State Home Department on October 25, 2021 issued directives to ensure that all the licensed guns are deposited to the Police Stations concerned at the earliest in the interest of maintaining law and order in the context of the forthcoming Manipur Legislative Assembly election.

It may be mentioned that Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren said on October 27 that all licensed gun owners should deposit their weapons at the nearest police stations. The step became necessary in view of the increasing number of clashes among the supporters of several politicians, during which guns including AK-47 rifles are used, he added.

The District Magistrate Imphal West has directed all the licensed arms holders of the district to deposit their firearms to the office of the District Magistrate with immediate effect. The other districts also have issued directives to all the licensed arms holders to deposit their guns to the nearest police stations immediately.

However, election-related violent incidents continue to happen in many Assembly Constituencies.

Three women on October 29 sustained injuries in election-related violence in Andro Assembly Constituency in Imphal East district and Khangabok Assembly Constituency in Thoubal district.

Villagers of Yambem Changamdabi, which falls under the Andro Assembly Constituency, said that a woman sustained a bullet injury on her left arm when unknown persons opened fire early on October 29.

From the empty cartridges recovered by police later, it was confirmed that AK-47 rifles were used. Reports said that AK-47 rifles are issued to the Manipur Rifles and IRB personnel who are guards of some elected members. A few days ago, AK-47 rifles were used in election-related violence in the same constituency.

Later, police seized one AK-47 rifle, two foreign made pistols and some live and empty cartridges, which were left in a nearby hillock.

On the night of October 29, some women activists tried to storm and stop an election meeting by a candidate planning to contest the Khangabok Assembly Constituency on BJP ticket. Two women Thokchom Roma and Ningthoujam Revika were wounded in an attack by the politician’s supporters allegedly armed with guns and other lethal weapons. Both of them were rushed to hospital.

Some Opposition politicians charge that the ruling BJP was using State forces as political tools.

The most unfortunate and first election-related violent incident killing an innocent person who did not involve in electioneering activities took place in the intervening night of December 21 and 22. Ningthoujam Rohit aka Kunao of Heirok Part-II Mayai Leikai and a college student who was reading BA 5th Semester at Thoubal College was shot dead while his father Ningthoujam Premchandra was injured critically.

In another incident before the father and son were shot, their neighbour Khundongbam Rakesh, 30, son of Shyam was also shot in the right arm by miscreants in front of Heirok Bazar at around 10.30 pm. He is also being treated at Raj Medicity.

Some miscreants allegedly opened fire at the gate of residence of Sagolsem Lakpati, Secretary of Napet Palli Village Managing Committee in Lamlai Assembly Constituency in Imphal East district on December 23.

Several rounds of bullets were reportedly fired upon a vehicle of a noted Congress worker, Md Altaf Hussain who along with other workers was conducting house to house election campaign for former Minister, Dr Kh Ratankumar in Mayang Imphal on the night of December 23.

In another election-related violent incident, several shots were fired in the air in the crowded BJP district office by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) President Manoharmayum Barish Sharma’s driver making attempts to rush out of the BJP district office venue located at Bishnupur. The incident took place as the pre-poll opinion poll organised by BJP Manipur Pradesh concluded on January 7. The pre-poll opinion was said to have been organised in an effort to assess the moods of party workers and leaders in the districts of Manipur.

On the night of January 9 at around 10:30 pm, armed miscreants attacked two persons near Samurou Machu Cinema Hall in Wangoi Assembly Constituency in Imphal West district. One person, identified as Abujam John, succumbed to bullet injuries in the gun attack while another person, identified as Abujam Tomba, who sustained bullet injury in the same incident, succumbed to his injuries at Raj Medicity hospital in Imphal next morning.

Amidst the tight security after the Samurou killing, miscreants allegedly detonated a bomb at the gate of Congress party intending candidate Salam Joy’s residence near Naorem Chaprou Oil Pump under Wangoi Police Station, Imphal West in early hours of January 12.

It is reported that at about 12.46 am of January 12, some armed miscreants fired five rounds of 9 mm bullets at the residence of one Ningthoujam Herojit, 41, son of late N Deben of Keirao Bitra Awang Leikai in Keirao Assembly Constituency in Imphal East district.

However, majority of licensed gun holders of Manipur are set free to possess their firearms in spite of Manipur Government’s order issue on October 25, 2021 to deposit them in the nearest police station.

As of January 8, 2022 only 11,767 guns out of the total 25299 licensed arms have been deposited in police stations of the restive state where the model code of conduct came into force after the declaration of the Assembly poll dates.

Polling for the 12th Manipur Assembly will be held in 38 constituencies in the first phase on February 27 and in 22 seats in the second phase on March 3, 2022.

Amidst the increasing election-related violence and despite State Government’s order to deposit the licensed firearms, the question – why the District Administrations fail to collect the licensed guns from the public remains unanswered while the election-related violence continues unabated.

1 thought on “District Administrations Fail to Collect Licensed Guns From Public Even as Election-Related Gun Violence Continue Unabated”

  1. Lack of sincerity in government authorities regarding recover of license gun

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