IN HIS first public statement on the violent clashes that broke out in Manipur earlier this month, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday pinned responsibility on the Manipur High Court (HC) order which asked the state government to submit a recommendation to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for the Meitei community.
“Manipur mein ek adaalat ke judgment ke kaaran kuch clashes hue hai (In Manipur, some clashes have happened because of a judgment by a court),” Shah said.
“My appeal to all brothers and sisters in Manipur, for six years we have all moved forward together peacefully. There was not a single bandh, not a single blockade. Today, we will solve the schism (vikhvaawad) which happened because of one order by a court, through dialogue, conversation and peace. It is the policy of the Narendra Modi government that injustice does not happen to anyone,” he said.
Shah was speaking during a visit to Guwahati where he laid the foundation for a National Forensic Science University and distributed appointment letters to 44,703 newly recruited candidates in various government departments.
He was referring to the Manipur High Court single-judge order on March 27, directing the state government to submit a recommendation to the Centre for the inclusion of the Meitei community in Manipur’s ST list.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had said the single-judge order was “absolutely wrong”, but declined to stay it, noting that the matter was pending before a division bench in the state.
The clashes in the state began after a ‘tribal solidarity march’ was held by the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur on May 3 to protest against the Meitei demand for ST status after the HC order. However, this also came after months of simmering tension in the Kuki-dominated areas of the state against several actions of the Manipur government, including crackdowns on poppy plantations, eviction drives, and frequent allegations that the Kukis of Churachandpur were sheltering “foreigners” from Myanmar.
At least 75 people were killed in the clashes across the state.
Shah said he would visit Manipur “in a few days”. “I want to assure you on behalf of the Central government that everyone will get justice and we will not spare the ones who have indulged in violence… I myself will go to Manipur after some days and will be there for three days, talking to all brothers and sisters in Manipur to establish peace. But peace can only be brought by the people of Manipur,” he said.
He underlined that the Northeast has seen major strides towards peace in the last nine years, and the clashes in Manipur were an aberration. “Under Modiji’s leadership, a new era of peace, progress and prosperity has come to Assam. In all of the Northeast, there has been a lot of importance given to development of infrastructure and, with that, connectivity with the mainland. We have had dialogue with all armed groups and have worked to bring them all to the mainstream, one by one… In the Northeast, around 8,000 youths have been brought to the mainstream by the Narendra Modi government and the governments in the Northeast. I believe that a very big transformation has taken place in the entire Northeast. In Manipur, some clashes have happened because of a judgment by a court,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai arrived in Imphal on Thursday along with BJP’s Northeast-in-charge Sambit Patra. Rai said Shah would reach Imphal on May 29 for a four-day visit. He appealed to the people to have faith in the Centre, and assured that “justice will be given to all”.—With ENS inputs