Amit Shah appeals for peace
Appealing with “folded hands” for an end to the three-month-long cycle of violence in Manipur, Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday urged warring Kuki and Meitei communities to hold talks, as Lok Sabha adopted a resolution calling for the restoration of peace in the northeastern state.
Intervening in the debate on the no-confidence motion after Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders slammed the government’s handling of the Manipur situation, Shah urged them not to politicise the issue of ethnic violence in the state. “I agree with the opposition that there is a cycle of violence in Manipur … Nobody can support such incidents. Whatever happened is shameful, but to politicise those events is even more shameful,” Shah said. The minister said 152 people were killed, 14,898 people arrested and 1,106 FIRs registered since violence erupted on May 3.
Lok Sabha also adopted a resolution read out by Speaker Om Birla appealing for peace in Manipur that was enthusiastically supported by the NDA members in the presence of the opposition.
In his nearly two-hour intervention, Shah ruled out a change of guard in Manipur asserting that the chief minister was cooperating with the Centre in the efforts to restore peace.
Shah also referred to the video of the May 4 incident, in which two women were stripped and paraded naked by mob, that appeared on July 19, saying the government was not aware of it.
Had the video been made available to the state Director General of Police instead of being circulated on social media, it would have helped nab the culprits in time, he said.
Shah also questioned the intention of leaking the video on social media ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament.
“The video is from the 4th of May incident. Such actions cannot be supported anywhere in the world. Media friends pointed out to me and asked if the video should be handed over to the police.
“Why did it emerge a day before the parliamentary session? Nine people were identified, arrested, and are facing trial since the video came to light,” he said
Shah spoke on the origin of hostilities and urged the two warring communities to come to the dialogue table.
“I urge both communities (Kukis and Meiteis) to sit with the Centre and talk to resolve the issue. We do not wish to change the demography. I am talking to them personally. Please do not politicise this,” Shah said.
The Home Minister said problems started in Manipur with the influx of Kuki refugees from neighbouring Myanmar after the military rulers there started a crackdown against militants in 2021.
The Kuki refugees started settling down in the jungles in the Manipur valley, raising fears of a demographic change in the region, Shah said.
The unrest in the Manipur valley began when rumours began to circulate that the refugee settlements have been declared as villages, Shah said.
He said the Manipur High Court order to fast-track the process for the inclusion of Meiteis in the list of Scheduled Tribes added fuel to the fire.
Shah said the violence that broke out on May 3 has been continuing to date and the Centre has established a peace committee as part of efforts to restore normalcy in the state.
“Over 36,000 security personnel have been stationed between Kukis and Meiteis as a buffer zone. The anger has not subsided yet, but violence has reduced.
“A unified command has been created to coordinate between BSF, CRPF, Assam Rifles and Manipur police deployed there. Six cases of conspiracy have been handed over to the CBI,” Shah said.