Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh today asked the people of violence-hit Manipur to work for normalcy amid reports of sporadic clashes in several areas of the state. At least 38 vulnerable areas have been identified and the central paramilitary forces will focus on them, he told reporters in state capital Imphal today.
“The 38 vulnerable areas are mainly in the foothills. We have deployed 34,000 paramilitary forces,” Mr Singh said, adding people should also stop attacking the homes of ministers and MLAs.
The Imphal home of Manipur MP and Union Minister Rajkumar Ranjan Singh was attacked last night by members of the Meitei community, upset over a recent peace meeting called by the Union Minister in Delhi with scholars from both the communities. The protesters said the informal peace meeting did not have enough representatives from their community.
Mr Biren asked those who have snatched guns from police outposts to return the weapons before the central forces start a large-scale combing operation.
Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to land in Imphal on May 29 to review the situation, weeks after violence flared up between the Meiteis, who live in and around the state capital Imphal valley, and the Kuki tribe, who are settled in the hills, over the Meiteis’ demand to be included under the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category.
“I want to appeal to the people we can bring peace together. Everyone should take measures for peaceful coexistence… These are complicated issues that can only be settled under constitutional provisions and with dialogue. We are here 24×7, talk to us about any concern. There are ministers, MLAs, all ready to talk,” Mr Singh added.
Manipur has been without internet for over 22 days.
The Kukis have alleged the BJP government in Manipur led by Chief Minister N Biren Singh has been targeting them systematically – using the war on drugs campaign as the cover – to remove them from the forests and their homes in the hills. The scale of poppy cultivation in Manipur, however, has spread across 15,400 acres of land in the hills between 2017 and 2023, according to data from the state’s special anti-drugs unit Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB).
The Meiteis – who cannot buy land in the hills while the tribals, who live in the hills, are allowed to own land in the valley – are worried their place in the valley will shrink over time.