The Centre has ruled out splitting Manipur on ethnic lines, Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh said on May 15.
He also said stern action would be taken against extremist groups under a suspension of operations (SoO) agreement for possessing weapons illegally.
“We met Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi yesterday (May 14) to brief him on the situation in Manipur. He expressed sadness over the incidents and said the State’s territorial integrity will not be compromised,” he told journalists in the State capital Imphal.
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An ethnic clash between a section of the non-tribal Meitei and members of tribes belonging to the Kuki-Chin-Zomi group following a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ on May 3 left more than 70 dead and 1,700 houses destroyed. Behind this march was a Manipur High Court order seeking a push for a proposal to grant Scheduled Tribe status to the Meitei people.
There has been a demand from the Kuki-Chin-Zomi people for carving out a separate community-based administrative zone. A section also sought the merger of the Kuki-Chin-Zomi areas with Mizoram.
The theory took wings after 10 Manipur MLAs belonging to the Kuki-Chin-Zomi group – seven of them from the BJP – issued a statement in Guwahati a few days ago for a separate administrative set-up.
Dealing with SoO groups
Mr. Singh also said the Centre has warned of stringent action against extremist groups bound by the tripartite SoO agreement for possessing illegal weapons.
Manipur has some 30 extremist outfits belonging to the Kuki-Chin-Zomi group and 25 of them are under the SoO. In March, the State government withdrew the SoO agreement with two of these outfits – the Kuki National Army and the Zomi Revolutionary Army – accusing them of inciting forest encroachers against the government, said to be a precursor to the violence from May 3.
“The Centre has asked the State government to bring back normalcy in Manipur irrespective of caste, religion, and community. We have been advised to conduct massive outreach programmes,” he said, adding that Mr. Shah would be sending emissaries to Manipur for reconnecting the communities.
“Amit Shah has assured the people of the State that as per the rules of the agreement, joint monitoring committee along with the Army and the State police jointly inspected many camps and found the weapons still intact with the group,” the Chief Minister said.
The Chief Minister also said some 500 weapons snatched from police establishments during the ethnic clashes have been recovered.
Ministers Thongam Biswajit, Yumnam Khemchand, Govindas Konthoujam, and Sapam Ranjan were present during the media briefing. They had accompanied the Chief Minister to New Delhi.
5,822 sheltered in Mizoram
A total of 5,822 people from Manipur belonging to the Chin-Kuki-Mizo tribes are lodged at temporary relief camps across six districts of Mizoram.
Officials in Mizoram said Aizawl district has the highest number of such displaced people at 2,021, followed by Kolasib (1,847), and Saitual (1,790). The rest are distributed in Champhai, Khawzawl and Serchhip districts.
Earlier, Mizoram Lok Sabha member C. Lalrosanga endorsed the demand of Manipur’s Kuki-Zomi MLAs for a separate administrative region for the tribal people.