Appealing for peace, Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday urged both the Meitei and Kuki communities in Manipur to shun violence and enter into a dialogue with each other and with the Union government. He appealed to them with ‘folded hands’ to adopt the path of peace at the earliest.
In his nearly 2-hour-long speech in Lok Sabha, Shah said the government had no intentions of effecting demographic changes in the state. He also said he was personally in talks with the warring factions to broker peace and assuage their fears.
Lok Sabha adopted a resolution calling for the restoration of peace in the north-eastern state, which has been mired in violence and bloodshed for over three months.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla also asked members to support the peace appeal.
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 in the state on May 3.
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 a 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.
“Nine people were identified, arrested, and are facing trial since the video came to light,” he 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.
“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 added.
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