Hundreds of members of the Assam branches of four Manipur-linked civil society groups took out a massive rally, asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to protect the territorial integrity of Manipur following ethnic violence between the Meiteis and the Kukis.
The All Assam Manipuri Youths’ Association, which organised the rally in Assam’s Cachar, in a letter to PM Modi requested to carry out the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Manipur, where illegal immigrants from Myanmar have allegedly entered in large numbers and settled in the hills.
“The complicated nature of the Manipur violence should be investigated properly and the perpetrators should be brought to justice to bring immediate peace in Manipur,” the Silchar-headquartered association, formed in 1964, said in the letter to PM Modi.
The protesters said the government should end the “suspension of operations”, or SoO, agreements signed with insurgent groups that allegedly participated in the Manipur violence.
“The government should look into the large-scale illegal deforestation in Manipur, which is causing imbalance in ecosystems, resulting in landslides, floods and water pollution not only in Manipur, but also in the plains of Assam because many rivers and rivulets flow down to Assam from the hills of Manipur,” the association said in the letter.
The protesters also included the Nikhil Bishnupriya Manipuri Maha Sabha, the All Assam Manipuri Women Meira Paibi Coordination Committee, and the All Assam Manipuri Students’ Organisation.
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 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.
Biren Singh 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.
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.