Amit Shah chairs meet to ‘bridge ethnic divide’ in Manipur, CM not invited

Amit Shah said the Home Ministry will talk to the Meiteis and Kuki-Zo. He conducted a “holistic review” of the security situation and directed officials to ensure that no further incident of violence took place in Manipur

Published - June 17, 2024 11:10 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Union Home Minister Amit Shah chairs a high-level meeting to review the security situation of Manipur, in New Delhi, on June 17, 2024.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah chairs a high-level meeting to review the security situation of Manipur, in New Delhi, on June 17, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a high-level meeting on Monday to review the “current status” of the Manipur ethnic conflict and the “way forward” without the presence of Chief Minister N. Biren Singh.

Underscoring the importance of a coordinated approach to resolve the ongoing conflict, Mr. Shah said the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will talk to both the groups, Meiteis and Kuki-Zo, “to bridge the ethnic divide at the earliest.”

A government source told The Hindu that Mr. Singh was not invited to the meeting as it was restricted to “security officials”.

A Manipur government source, explaining Mr. Singh’s absence, said that since May 30, 2023, Kuldiep Singh, Security Adviser, Manipur Government, has been designated as the chairperson of the Unified Command that is responsible for security-related decisions in the State.

Mr. Shah said the Government of India has been actively supporting the State government in strengthening the security situation.

The meeting comes in the wake of fresh violence in the Jiribam district that had remained unaffected by ethnic strife so far. Even as the meeting was underway, hundreds of vehicles carrying essential commodities to the Imphal valley were stuck along National Highway-37, which connects Assam to Manipur, due to a blockade imposed by Kuki-Zo Village Volunteers in Jiribam. They said they were doing this in response to people from the Meitei community “deliberately preventing Kuki-Zo people from using NH-37”, also a lifeline for Jiribam.

The MHA said Mr. Shah conducted a “holistic review” of the security situation and directed officials to ensure that no further incident of violence took place in Manipur. He added that the deployment of central security forces will be increased, and, if required, they should be strategically placed to “restore peace and tranquility” in the State. He further directed that strict action must be taken as per law against the perpetrators of violence.

The meeting lasted an hour. A top source said the meeting focussed on the “current security situation” and the “government is taking inputs from multiple channels to arrive at some decisions in the coming days.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled State has been affected by ethnic violence between the tribal Kuki-Zo people and the majority Meitei community since May 3, 2023. More than 50,000 people have been displaced and at least 221 people have been killed so far. More than 4,500 weapons were looted from police armouries with only one-third of them recovered. Cases of extortions and abductions have increased, particularly in the valley areas dominated by the Meiteis. The Kuki-Zo people who live in the hill districts have been demanding a separate administration.

Monday’s meeting was attended by the Security Adviser Kuldiep Singh; Director General of Police, Manipur, Rajiv Singh; Chief Secretary Vineet Joshi; Army Chief Manoj Pande; Army Chief-designate Lt. Gen. Upendra Dwivedi; GOC, 3 Corps, Lt. Gen. H.S. Sahi; Assam Rifles DG, Lt. Gen. Pradeep Chandran Nair; Adviser (NorthEast) A.K. Mishra; Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla; Intelligence Bureau chief Tapan Deka and others.

Mr. Shah said the government is fully committed to ensure safety and security of all citizens of Manipur. He reviewed the situation in the relief camps, especially in respect of proper availability of food, water, medicines and other basic amenities. He directed the Chief Secretary of Manipur to ensure proper health and education facilities for the displaced people and their rehabilitation.

Days after the Lok Sabha election results were announced, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on June 10 called for peace in strife-torn Manipur. “The State had been peaceful for 10 years. It had appeared that gun culture had ended. However, who is thinking of dousing the flames that have erupted now? Peace has to be considered on priority basis,” he had said.

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