The Central government on June 4 appointed a three-member Commission of Inquiry headed by Ajai Lamba, former Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court, to probe the ethnic violence in Manipur, that has claimed 98 lives so far and displaced over 35,000 people.
Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday appealed to the people of Manipur to lift blockades on the Imphal-Dimapur National Highway-2. The highway is critical for all supplies to reach Manipur’s valley areas. Starting from Dimapur in Nagaland, the highway passes through Naga and Kuki hill districts in Manipur. Since Manipur does not have rail connectivity yet, the National Highway is the lifeline for transport of essential goods.
“My sincerest appeal to the people of Manipur is to lift the blockades at the Imphal-Dimapur, NH-2 Highway, so that food, medicines, Petrol/Diesel, and other necessary items can reach the people. I also request that Civil Society Organisations do the needful in bringing consensus. Together only we can restore normalcy in this beautiful state,” Mr. Shah said in a tweet . Manipur has been affected by ethnic violence between the Kuki and Meitei communities for a month now.
A notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday said that the “Commission shall submit its report to the Central Government as soon as possible but not later than six months from the date of its first sitting”. Its headquarters will be in Imphal.
The other two members of the Commission are Himanshu Shekhar Das, retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer from the 1982 batch of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, and Aloka Prabhakar, a 1986 batch retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Telangana cadre.
The notification said that on May 3, large-scale violence broke out in the State of Manipur, and as a result of the violence, many residents lost their lives, several were injured, their houses and properties burnt down, and due to the arson, many were rendered homeless.
On May 29, the Government of Manipur recommended the institution of a Judicial Inquiry Commission to look into the causes and associated factors of the crisis, and the unfortunate incidents that occurred on May 3.
“And whereas, on the recommendation of the Government of Manipur, the Central Government is of the opinion that it is necessary to appoint a Commission of Inquiry for the purpose of making an inquiry into a definite matter of public importance, namely, incidents of violence in Manipur,” the notification said.
The terms of reference of the Commission said that it would inquire into the causes and the spread of the violence and riots targeting members of different communities, and the sequence of events and whether there were any lapses or dereliction of duty in this regard on the part of any of the responsible authorities and individuals. It would also probe if adequate administrative measures had been taken to prevent and deal with the violence and the riots, and to consider such matters as may be found relevant in the course of the inquiry.
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The inquiry by the Commission shall also be in regard to “complaints or allegations that may be made before the commission by any individual, or association, in such form and accompanied by such affidavits, as may be specified by the Commission”, and the role of government officials as may be brought to its notice by the Government of Manipur.
“The Commission may, if it deems fit, make interim reports to the Central Government before the final deadline,” the Commission’s terms of reference added.
Addressing a press conference in Imphal on June 1, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said that a judicial probe into the ethnic violence in Manipur would be conducted by setting up a Commission to “investigate the violence, its causes, and fix responsibility” on the Centre’s behalf.