A special battalion of the Territorial Army has secured three vital oil installations in Manipur amid reports of fresh unrest in state capital Imphal.
Many oil firm employees had been unable to reach their installations due to security concerns after ethnic clashes started on May 3 between the Meiteis, who live in and around Imphal valley, and the Kukis tribe, who are settled in the hills of Manipur.
The Territorial Army, or TA, then moved in and secured three vital oil installations that are the lifeline of Manipur – Imphal aviation fuelling station, Malom bulk oil depot, and Sekmai LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) bottling plant.
Curfew has been imposed again in state capital Imphal today following tensions between the Meiteis and the Kukis over sharing space at a market in New Chekon neighbourhood.
A former Manipur MLA and two others were arrested with guns today after violence flared up in state capital Imphal’s Chekon neighbourhood. Security forces were rushed to the area again this afternoon after days of fragile peace. The three armed men including the MLA threatened shopkeepers to shut down in New Chekon, Chief Minister N Biren Singh told reporters this evening.
The Assam Rifles rushed in and caught the three men and handed them over to the state police. The situation has been brought under control, Mr Singh said, adding three shotguns have been recovered.
Manipur has been without internet for nearly 20 days.
“Energy crisis, howsoever short, has tremendous economic… and psychological effect, apart from the immediate foreseeable effects and the unit worked relentlessly to prevent this from happening,” the TA said in a statement.
The TA battalion has been able to send fully-loaded oil trucks from the Malom depot, it said in the statement. The TA battalion also sent out many trucks carrying aviation fuel for civil and defence flights to Imphal airport.
The 414 Army Service Corps Battalion Marketing (Territorial Army) has over 100 employees of Indian Oil Ltd, trained by the army, to handle any oil-related situation independently.
The TA is a part of the regular army and its role is to relieve the regular army from static duties and help the civil administration in dealing with natural calamities and maintenance of essential services. The TA also provides units for the regular army whenever needed.
𝙏𝙚𝙧𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙖𝙡 𝘼𝙧𝙢𝙮 𝙀𝙣𝙨𝙪𝙧𝙚𝙨 𝙀𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙜𝙮 𝙎𝙚𝙘𝙪𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙮
As a direct fallout of security situation in #Manipur, oil installations were non operational & led to tasking of Territorial Army to either take control or render assistance #ManipurRescuepic.twitter.com/9qgMCb70Wv
— SpearCorps.IndianArmy (@Spearcorps) May 22, 2023
The security forces have said all trucks carrying essential supplies that were stranded on the highways in Manipur due to blockade by tribal protesters at several pockets have reached their destinations.
Over 70 people have died since May 3 in clashes between the Meiteis and Kukis over the Meiteis’ demand for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category. Following this, 10 tribal MLAs in BJP-ruled Manipur wrote a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah, demanding a separate administration for tribals within the state, saying they “cannot live together any more.”
Meitei groups have alleged the protest by the Kuki tribals against their demand to be included in the ST category was only an excuse to push for their main goal – the formation of a separate Kuki land. Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, who is from the BJP, has said the territorial integrity of Manipur will be protected.