Imphal: A drop box for returning weapons snatched from security forces set up at the home of a BJP legislator from Imphal East has become a popular attraction with local youth, who have taken advantage of the anonymous facility to deposit 130 weapons including sophisticated automatic rifles.
A large poster at a covered shed outside the home of L Susindro Meitei, who is currently a Minister in the Manipur government, says “Please drop your snatched weapons here” both in English and Meitei language.
A tagline below this adds “feel free to do so”, an indication that questions will not be asked how the weapons were in thei possession of those who drop by in the first place.
A few weapons including a couple of automatic rifles and live ammunition belts were actually present in the box when a PTI reporter went there this morning.
Susindro who was touring his constituency area persuading young villagers to join in the peace process by depositing their weapons, later told PTI over the phone that he had set up the facility as, “Many a time those who come to surrender arms hesitate out of fear of the police … that’s why this anonymous box.”
He said that some 130 weapons have been received so far since it was set up a few days ago. “The keys to the box are kept with the police and they can come anytime to pick up the weapons,” the MLA added.
Large numbers of weapons were looted from police stations in early May when ethnic violence broke out in the state of Manipur.
Since then both Chief Minister N. Biren Singh and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have appealed to people to surrender their weapons.
Army and para-military forces in collaboration with state police have been carrying out combing operations to defang communities and bring back peace here.
At least 35 weapons and warlike stores were recovered during joint combing operations by security forces on Friday, an official said.
At least 100 people lost their lives and 310 others were injured in the ethnic violence in Manipur that broke out a month ago.
A total of 37,450 people are currently sheltered in 272 relief camps. Clashes first 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.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley.
Tribals Nagas and Kukis constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.