India’s Manipur violence death toll rises to 54

In this picture taken on May 4, 2023, smoke billows from a vehicle allegedly burned by the Meitei community tribals protesting to demand inclusion under the Scheduled Tribe category, in Imphal the capital of India's Manipur state. (PHOTO / AFP)

NEW DELHI – The death toll in the ongoing violence in India's northeastern state of Manipur rose to 54 on Saturday, according to the New Delhi-based Press Trust of India (PTI).

The authorities are tightlipped over the death toll in the ongoing violence and have not issued any official statement.

Reports said schools, houses, churches, vehicles and public properties were set ablaze in the state

On Thursday, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh admitted that "some precious lives were lost." However, Singh did not provide the death count in the violence.

Large-scale violence broke out in the state on Wednesday during a tribal protest demonstration over the inclusion of the non-tribal Meiteis community for a scheduled tribe status. The call for protest was given by the All Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM).

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Scheduled tribes in India are officially designated as disadvantaged socio-economic groups. They are given reservations in education and jobs with the aim to improve their lives.

Thousands of people took part in the rally during which violence broke out between tribals and non-tribals.

Reports said schools, houses, churches, vehicles and public properties were set ablaze in the state.

The authorities have deployed over 100 columns of army and paramilitary forces to restore peace. The government forces are carrying out flag marches, area domination and rescue operations to shift vulnerable people to army camps and temporary government accommodations.

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According to the Indian army, until Friday evening they rescued 13,000 civilians and shifted them to temporary arrangements within military premises.

Reports said some shops reopened in Imphal on Saturday morning and cars were seen plying on roads.