Need dialogue to restore peace in Manipur, say prominent Meitei representatives

New Delhi: Former advisor to Manipur CM says it’s no longer a Kuki-Meitei problem, that it is now an India problem

BY | Wednesday, 28 June, 2023

With violence-hit Manipur struggling to return to normalcy, prominent representatives from the Meitei community on Tuesday stressed the need to reach out to the other side and initiate a dialogue to resolve differences and restore peace.

At a discussion organised here by Delhi Manipuri Society, an organisation working for Meiteis, representatives from the community said it is important to focus on restoring peace in the state.

They said the government should make fresh efforts for dialogue.

Retired Lieutenant General Himalay Singh, the first officer from northeast India to reach the rank of lieutenant general in the Indian Army, said it is not the time for “eye for an eye” but for peace-building.

“We should sit down together and have a dialogue. When the Home Minister came to Manipur, and announced the formation of a peace committee, it was a good step… Hope the peace committee works out,” Singh said while expressing concern over the situation.

“Ethnic conflicts are caused by imbalances or perceived imbalances. It’s caused by fear,” he said.

He said the situation also creates a threat to national security “What about the geopolitical game? Is China interested? I don’t know,” he said.

“We are living in an environment with both external and internal security challenges. It must be addressed,” he said.

The retired Lt General suggested that talks should be held with Kuki MLAs.

Senior journalist from Manipur Pradip Phanjouban said, “The hate cycle needs to be broken. We have to begin by looking at what is the way to reach out to the other side.”

“Order has to come back. Ultimately we are citizens first, identity is a private affair, not a public affair. You separate church from politics, that is secularism,” he said.

IRS officer Banita Devi Naorem, who moderated the discussion, said Manipur is “burning and needs urgent attention”.

Former advisor to Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, Rajat Sethi, meanwhile, said a peaceful northeast is in India’s interest, adding that there are “vested interests” which want to create disturbances.

“It’s no longer a Kuki-Meitei problem. Other players have jumped in. Now it’s an India problem. Vested interests outside India who do not want a peaceful India are at work…” he said.

He said while politics is a part of the problem, it will also be the way to a solution.

“The best possible way is through the public representatives… Do not expect mobs to give solutions,” he said.

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