Since the eruption of ethnic violence in Manipur on May 3, the state’s police have registered approximately 6,000 cases. According to News18’s report, the majority of these cases, about 70, are murder-related, with many filed against unknown individuals, according to top-level sources. The detention of 657 people from both the Imphal Valley and surrounding hill areas in cases linked to clashes in different districts have been made, said the police.
Despite the high number of cases, Manipur is facing a shortage of authorized sub-inspector rank officers to conduct investigations. Given the priority of maintaining law and order, many investigations have not even commenced or are in the early stages. Additionally, there have been challenges in deploying personnel from one community to areas belonging to another community due to safety concerns.
The police are grappling with the daily registration of about 75 cases, but progress is hindered with limited staff available for probing. Transportation of arrested individuals is also difficult, as local residents sometimes forcibly release the accused.
In some instances, ‘zero FIRs’ have been registered, such as in a sexual assault case where tribal women were allegedly paraded naked, and one of them reportedly gang-raped. In another case involving the alleged murder of two women, police have registered a ‘zero FIR’ with rape charges, but confirmation of sexual assault awaits a report from the forensic department.
Another challenge faced by the police is housing the accused in jail. With only one permanent jail in Imphal, temporary arrangements have been made in various areas, especially near security forces’ camps, to accommodate a higher number of arrests or to mitigate risks associated with moving the accused from one place to another.