The Congress on Thursday alleged that the Manipur violence seemed “pre-planned” and demanded immediate imposition of the President’s Rule in the state to help restore peace and normalcy. Congress spokesperson and the party’s in-charge for Manipur, Bhakta Charan Das, also demanded compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in the violence and Rs 5 lakh for people whose houses were destroyed.
Addressing a press conference here, he questioned why Union Home Minister Amit Shah has not visited the violence-hit northeastern state yet and why Prime Minister Narendra Modi has remained silent on the issue. “The BJP government has utterly failed to control the situation (in Manipur). It has been unable to stop the violence, unable to stop weapons from being looted or recover them, unable to rescue innocent people and unable to provide facilities to those in relief camps,” Das said.
“In this situation, we demand that the President’s Rule be immediately imposed to stop these incidents (of violence) that are happening even now,” he said and alleged that the center and the state government are not working according to the Constitution. If there is President’s Rule, then there will be more accountability, the Congress spokesperson said.
Das said had law and order been there, this would have not happened. “It seems it (violence) was pre-planned” because no one from the central government is monitoring this issue, he alleged. “The home minister has still not visited Manipur and the prime minister has not even tweeted and appealed for peace,” Das said. “Why has the Union home minister not visited the state of Manipur yet? Why has the prime minister not even issued an appeal for peace? What measures has the Union government taken to restore peace and save the lives and properties of people?” he asked.
The Congress leader demanded immediate relief measures such as treatment of those injured and creating a safe space for people to go back to their homes. All India Congress Committee general secretary Jairam Ramesh asked, “What exactly is going on in regard to the imposition of Article 355 of the Constitution in Manipur?” Senior state officials say it has been invoked but the Modi government has not issued any notification to this effect. But its actions certainly seem to indicate that the spirit of Article 355 is being enforced if not the letter,” he said on Twitter.
Under the article, the central government can handle the law and order machinery of a state. The BJP’s “double engine” government, which got such a convincing mandate in the assembly polls 15 months back, has completely derailed, Ramesh alleged and added that the people of Manipur, across regions and communities, are suffering enormously.
“Meanwhile, the prime minister continues to be silent and has moved on to start a campaign for the next round of state elections in November 2023. The Union home minister has not deemed it fit to visit the state and assess the situation,” he said. Congress spokesperson Das claimed that though 209 relief camps have been set up, thousands of people in these camps are struggling as the government has not been able to provide adequate facilities.While the government claims the situation is heading back to normalcy, the truth is The return of people from camps to their homes is still slow, he claimed.
The Congress condemns the “unwarranted violence and undemocratic actions of the BJP government” and appeals for restoration of peace and harmony in Manipur, Das said. He also accused the state and central governments of inaction and failure to provide governance. The last assembly election in Manipur was held in an atmosphere of fear and votes were polled amid the fear of the gun and intimidation by insurgents, Das said.
Violent clashes broke out in Manipur after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organized in 10 hill districts of the north-eastern state on May 3 to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribes (ST) status.The clashes were preceded by tension over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, which had led to a series of smaller agitations.
At least 60 people were killed and over 30,000 rendered homeless in rioting which engulfed Manipur last week, even as curfew continues to be imposed in 11 districts of the state.Das claimed that never in the history of Manipur has such conflict happened between communities.More More than 40,000 people are affected with more than 70 people officially declared dead and around 20,000 people displaced from their homes and living in camps, Das said.
The Congress spokesperson said at least 1,700 homes have been damaged and more than 200 churches and temples burned. This has giving a new communal twist to tension between communities, he said, adding that there is violence, arson, and mayhem in various districts of Manipur including Churachandpur, Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur, Tengnoupal, and Kangpokpi.
Asked about who was supporting the formation of armed outfits in Manipur, he alleged that “a person in a powerful position” in the government and another in Parliament are behind them. Das said these outfits are indulging in violence while attacking people and religious places. The goons of these outfits on the lines of the Bajrang Dal were seen attacking people in the state as police watched as mute spectators, he alleged.
In March last year, the Congress leader alleged, the BJP’s “so-called double engine sarkar” formed government in Manipur with a resounding mandate from both the hills and the valley. But the two long-standing demands precipitated the current crisis — more autonomy to the Hill Areas Committee and the six Autonomous District Councils for the hill areas, and ST status for the Meiteis, he said.
“The BJP government both in the state and at the Center betrayed the people of all communities of Manipur. No democratic process was initiated either by the Union or the state government to fulfill these demands,” he said.”Instead conflict was triggered through undemocratic actions by the state government, including sudden evacuation of villagers from 38 villages in forest areas, the spread of violence by BJP functionaries at protest sites, and provocation from the chief minister with his arrogant utterances,” Das alleged.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals — Nagas and Kukis — constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the 10 hill districts. Chief Minister N Biren Singh had on Monday said that 60 people were killed, 231 injured and 1,700 houses, including religious places, burned in the ethnic violence that has rocked the northeastern state for the past few days.