New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah will visit Manipur and stay for about three days in view of the prevailing law and order and socio-political conflict in the North Eastern State.
Amit Shah’s junior colleague in the Home Ministry, Nityanand Rai, made the announcement at a media conference in Imphal on May 25.
Amit Shah yet again appealed for peace in Manipur. “Amit Shah will take stock of the prevailing situation in Manipur and will stay on from May 29 to June 1,” Nityanand Rai said.
For his part, Amit Shah also stated that – “There were clashes in Manipur after the verdict of a court. I would appeal to both groups, they should maintain peace, and justice will be done for everyone. I will go to Manipur after a few days and stay there for three days to talk to the people of Manipur to establish peace”.
Despite repeated appeals and efforts by the central forces, there has been no letup in the overall situation, and over 7000 people have already taken shelter in nearby Mizoram.
The conflict is between Meiteis and Kukis and other smaller tribes from the Zo family. The people who have moved to Mizoram and are taking shelter in key hubs like Kolasib and Aizawl share an ethnic bond with Mizos.
One person was shot dead, and houses were set on fire as fresh ethnic violence erupted in Manipur, officials said on May 25.
At least 70 people have lost their lives, and thousands have been rendered homeless and have been ‘displaced’.
The violence was sparked on May 3 during a protest by Kuki tribals who are opposing ST status to Meteis.
The High Court had also favoured such status, but the Supreme Court has disapproved any directives from the High Court on the matter.
On May 23 night, reviving violence once again, Meiteis allegedly burned down three Kuki villages in the Bishnupur district. The hamlets are Phoisanphai (near Kwakta), P.Gelmol and Gangpibul (near Tronglaobi).
Sources said Curfew relaxation had been withdrawn since May 23, and restrictions have been reimposed in Bishnupur, Imphal East, Imphal West and Jiribam districts in view of the deteriorating situation.
In some places, people have been advised to take special permission in case of emergencies and for persons who want to take out processions for marriage and funerals.
The centre has taken measures promptly ever since the trouble started on May 3.
Some 250 Kuki people have been taking shelter in the Medziphema area of Nagaland lately, and the State Government, other agencies, and various groups have extended humanitarian assistance by supplying rice and some essential commodities.
The firefight between security forces and some Meitei groups has added to further tension. Four security force personnel were reportedly injured in a gun battle in Kamjong district on May 24.
An irate mob vandalised PWD Minister Govindas Konthoujam’s residence located at Ningthoukhong Bazar under Bishnupur district on May 24, local reports said.
Sources quoting reports from various agencies, including from the State Government headed by N Biren Singh, said there have been growing involvement of some armed groups in the poppy business. Hence, the nexus of the drug mafia is not ruled out in an atmosphere wherein there is large-scale starvation for cash.
Sources said demonetisation in 2016, the overall economic crisis and GST in 2017 and the introduction of digital payments by PM Modi Government had affected the ‘cash business’ of militant groups across the North East region.
Hence, the involvement of some groups in the money-spinning poppy business is certainly a strong possibility, sources said.
In January this year, the Manipur Government submitted a report to the centre, and therein it spoke about the need for combining the ‘War on Drugs’ campaign along with the anti-deforestation drive especially in poppy cultivation areas.
One source said, “What really should raise eyebrows and send warning signals is that the poppy cultivation is on the rise in the North Eastern States as youths are generally getting frustrated and are looking for viable job avenues”.
The Golden Triangle comprising Laos, Thailand and Myanmar is a major corridor of drug production and supply in South East Asia. Moreover, Myanmar is very close to States such as Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
An estimated 50,000 people have been killed in Manipur since the 1950s in various types of conflicts. Such conflicts, including between tribals and non-tribals, have waned lately.
The BJP and its allies have been in power in the State since 2017.