Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on May 8 that the Manipur High Court’s order to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the majority Meitei community in Manipur will be discussed with all stakeholders, and there was no need for anyone to be scared. The Army enhanced aerial surveillance along the Manipur-Myanmar border to keep a watch on any misadventure by insurgent groups in the neighbouring country, a source said.
The Manipur Government’s Security Advisor Kuldiep Singh told The Hindu that out of 35,000 people staying in relief camps, 20,000 people had been escorted safely to their homes. “Around 15,000 people remain in relief camps. Relaxation in curfew timings was allowed in several places, in some places up to four hours. District Magistrates have been given a free hand to decide the timings,” Mr. Singh said. He added that no major incident had been reported in the past 24 hours. He said 215 weapons looted from police armoury had been recovered so far.
Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said in Imphal that around 60 “innocent people” were killed, 231 persons injured, and 1,700 houses burnt down in the violence. He said a high-level inquiry would be conducted to identify the persons and groups who instigated the violence and fix responsibility on government officials who failed in their duty.
The Manipur High Court on March 27 directed the State government to submit a recommendation for the inclusion of Meitis in the ST list, asking to consider the proposal preferably within four weeks. The final decision, however, lies with the Centre.
This has been opposed by the existing 34 Scheduled Tribes in Manipur who comprise 41% of the State’s population and predominantly live in the hill districts. A ‘Tribal Solidarity Rally’ was organised in Churachandpur and other areas on May 3, following which violence erupted, which has left scores dead and thousands displaced, with most parts of the State remaining under curfew and Internet shutdown.
“The court has passed an order. This will be discussed with all concerned stakeholders and the Manipur Government will take an appropriate decision after consultations. There is no need for any person or group to be scared,” Mr. Shah said in an interview to India Today TV.
The State government has not challenged the order in the court yet.
“Mobile Internet will remain suspended for the next two-three days. Many videos that could cause trouble are still being circulated,” Mr. Singh said.
The Army pressed in Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and helicopters into action to enhance surveillance on the situation in Manipur and along the Indo-Myanmar Border, according to sources in the Indian Army. Over 120 columns of Army and Assam Rifles personnel have been working on the ground for over 96 hours. The UAVs have been employed since Saturday, an Army source based on the ground said.
“The employment of these assets is giving a major fillip to the effectiveness of Army and Assam Rifles, the success of which is evident on the ground in Manipur not only in the hinterland but also for domination of the Indo Myanmar Border to prevent any attempt at misadventure by Manipur’s valley-based insurgent groups staying across various camps,” the source said.
Aerial assets give the security forces a major edge to not only carry out effective surveillance of anti-national elements but also target elements that may harm important installations, the source said.
The Army and Assam Rifles have so far evacuated over 23,000 internally displaced people, of which approximately 9,500 are from the Meitei community while another 10,000 belong to the Kuki community and have been accommodated in various military camps across the State. A few hundred civilians from other States have also been moved out of Manipur.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma said that around 2,000 families from Manipur have taken shelter in the Cachar district of Assam and most people will return to their homes from Tuesday.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh said in Imphal that around 60 “innocent people” were killed, 231 persons injured, and 1700 houses were burned down in the “unfortunate incident.”
He said a high-level inquiry will be conducted to identify the persons and groups who instigated the violence and fix responsibility of government officials who didn’t meet the requirements.