As Manipur reels from violence, home minister Shah to visit the state today

On Saturday, chief of Army staff, General Manoj Pande, visited Manipur on a two-day visit to hold meetings with various civil society organisations

Amit Shah

Amit Shah (Photo: PTI)

BS Web Team New Delhi

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Union home minister Amit Shah will visit ethnic violence-hit Manipur for a three-day visit on Monday as tensions continue to simmer in parts of the northeastern state. Ahead of his visit, Union minister of state for home Nityanand Rai arrived in the state on Thursday and told reporters that Shah will arrive in Manipur on Monday to take stock of the situation.

Speaking at an Assam event, Shah said he would stay for three days in Manipur, but before that, both groups should remove mistrust and suspicion and ensure that peace is restored.

Hours after his comments, Letzamang Haokip, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker from the Kuki community, said they would welcome Shah but not meet him in the presence of chief minister N Biren Singh.

On Saturday, chief of army staff General Manoj Pande visited Manipur on a two-day visit to hold meetings with various civil society organisations in the Churachandpur district.

40 militants killed so far

N Biren Singh on Sunday said nearly 40 armed militants involved in torching houses and firing at civilians had been killed by security forces since they began an operation to bring peace to the northeastern state beset by ethnic rioting.

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Separately, police officials on Sunday said at least two persons were killed and 12 injured in different instances of firing upon civilians and clashes between militants and security forces since the early hours of the day.

The latest clashes began after the army and paramilitary forces commenced combing operations to de-arm communities to bring peace, officials said, as the news agency PTI reported.

The CM, who was interacting with the media persons at the state secretariat, claimed the latest round of conflict is not between communities but between militants and security forces.

Singh also said there had been cases of armed militants firing at civilians with AK-47s, M-16 and sniper rifles. These militants were targeted by security forces in counter-attacks.

The CM appealed to the public not to hinder the movement of security personnel and urged them to have "faith in the government and support the security forces."

"We have experienced hardship for so long and we will never allow the state to disintegrate," Singh said.

He said many militants involved in killing civilians and destroying property, and torching houses had been captured by the Jat regiment.

Singh added that the government is also "deeply saddened by the casualties on both sides" and assured "all possible steps in bringing back normalcy".

He said the spurt in violent attacks on civilian houses in the peripheral areas of the Imphal valley seemed well-planned. Singh termed it "strongly condemnable...especially when the minister of state Nityanand Rai is in Manipur, and group peace missions are being formed to bring back peace".

Singh said 38 vulnerable areas have been identified, and the state police have been conducting operations there.

Why are the protests taking place in Manipur?

The violence was triggered after the Manipur high court on April 27 directed that the Meities, Manipur's dominant community accounting for 53 per cent of its population, be included on the Scheduled Tribes list.

Mostly tribal Kukis took to the streets against the directions beginning May 3. They organised a "Tribal Solidarity March" to protest against the decision.

The violence was preceded by tension over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, which had led to a series of smaller agitations.

The army has been deployed in the region since May 4. Thousands of security personnel have been patrolling the streets of major cities and remote villages. Curfew has been clamped in swathes of the state, and the internet has been suspended for over three weeks.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mainly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals Nagas, and Kukis constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: May 29 2023 | 11:26 AM IST

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