‘Government working to restore peace in Manipur, no killing since July 18’

New Delhi: Government agencies holding separate talks with Meitei and Kuki groups

BY | Thursday, 27 July, 2023

Refuting the opposition’s claim that Manipur “is burning”, a senior government functionary said on Thursday that no killing has happened in the state since July 18 and asserted that peace and normalcy will be restored soon through talks with the two warring communities – Meiteis and Kukis.

With the opposition bloc of ‘INDIA’ accusing the Centre of inaction, he said Home Minister Amit Shah spent three days, met 41 different groups and visited major sites of violence in Manipur. He contrasted the BJP-led dispensation’s approach with that of the previous governments at the Centre when the northeastern state witnessed at least four major cases of ethnic violence.

The only time a minister replied in Parliament was in August 1993 when the then Minister of State for Home Affairs spoke following the killing of hundreds of people and uprooting of over 350 villages during the Kuki-Naga clashes, he claimed.

Only once a minister, the then Minister of State for Home Rajesh Pilot, had visited the state for three and a half hours, he said and highlighted the hands-on approach of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government on the issue.

The incumbent Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai spent 22 days between May 25 and June 17 in the state, the government functionary said.

Reacting to the opposition’s attack on Modi over the issue, he said the prime minister would speak to Shah every day after the violence broke out to formulate the government’s approach.

There have been days when Modi has spoken to the Home Minister even thrice, he said.

The opposition is using the issue for political point-scoring and projecting a “false narrative” that Manipur is burning, he claimed.

He also rejected any religious angle in the violence, which has claimed nearly 150 lives since it erupted in the first week of May, saying it is entirely ethnic in character with both communities having their share of real and perceived grievances.

There is a gulf of distrust between them that the government is working to bridge, he said.

Government agencies have been holding separate talks with Meitei and Kuki groups to listen to them and narrow down their demands to what can be worked on before all parties sit together to help restore peace and normalcy, he said.

By deploying over 35,000 security personnel, the government has succeeded in creating a buffer zone between the areas with Meitei and Kuki population, he said.

Over 50,000 displaced people from both communities were shifted successfully to their areas by May 7, he asserted.

One must keep it in mind that the state has a history of ethnic tensions and violence which was put largely to rest since the Modi government came to power in 2014, before a range of issues, including the state high court’s advocacy for tribal status for Meiteis, ignited the recent wave of clashes.

“There may still be some unrest and some stray incidents of violence. But the fact that no one has been killed in the violence since July 18 does send out a message,” he said.

The government is also working to curb the influx of immigrants from Myanmar and the drug trade, also a source of tensions between communities, he said.

The government has been taking biometric data of all immigrants, many of whom have entered due to internal issues in Myanmar, to ensure that they do not get citizenship benefits, he added.

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