A woman’s rights body said on July 3 that relief camps in Manipur were in a grim condition and were mostly being run with the efforts of well-meaning citizens and civil society groups with very limited support from the State government. Most of the people in the camps are daily wage workers and ordinary people.
After the ethnic violence between the tribal Kuki-Zo and Meitei communities erupted in the State on May 3, nearly 60,000 people have been displaced and are living in relief camps in Manipur and neighbouring Mizoram.
It said that the State government and its machinery remained defunct in the ongoing crisis and the criminal apathy of the Union government exacerbated the prevailing grim situation.
A three-member fact-finding team of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) led by general secretary Annie Raja, Nisha Siddhu and Delhi-based lawyer Deeksha Dwivedi that visited Manipur from June 28-July 1 said that the camps had persons aged one month to those who are 80 and above. “Many pregnant women are also there in the camps. Persons with various health conditions are struggling without proper medical attention. Food provided by the government is insufficient, especially for infants, elderly, pregnant, and lactating women. There is also a massive shortage of clean water, sanitation, and sanitary pads,” the NFIW said.
Terming it a “State-sponsored violence,” the body said the general sense which prevailed in both communities was unhappiness and anger with the Chief Minister over his mishandling of the situation.
“Children and young people are worried about the uncertain future as they are unable to continue their studies or pursue any employment opportunities. The populace of the relief camp who suffered violence are not aware of any registering of FIRs or any compensation being offered by the State government. It also came to light that no Compensation Claims Commission was set up by the State government,” it said.
Prior to the visit, the NFIW had a series of meetings in Delhi with women from Kuki and Meitei communities who had to flee Manipur owing to the violence. On June 28, the team visited three relief camps in Imphal East and one government hospital (Regional Institute of Medical Sciences).
On June 29, the team visited two relief camps in Moirang of Bishnupur district and the District Collector’s office. Later in the evening, the team also visited IMA Market and spoke with Meira Paibis, women groups.
On June 30, the team visited Churachandpur district and met many victims of the violence in relief camps, including two young girls who were brutally assaulted by a mob.
“What is occurring currently in Manipur is not communal violence nor is it merely a fight between two communities. It involves the questions of land, resources, and the presence of fanatics and militants,” it said, accusing the government of carrying out strategies to materialise its hidden pro-corporate agenda.
On May 3-4, majority of the houses were burned. It was said that the security forces, including the State police, were lax and lethargic in controlling the violence and Chief Minister N. Biren Singh was busy hosting the Vice-President and uploading pictures on Twitter till 7 p.m., while the State was burning.
“The general sense which prevails in both communities is unhappiness and anger with the Chief Minister over his mishandling of the situation,” it said.