National leaders of Welfare Party of India visit violence-torn Manipurtext_fields
New Delhi: S.Q.R. Ilyas, National President of Welfare Party of India and Mr Subramani Arumugam, National Gen. Sec. (Org.) visited Manipur for two days (1st & 2nd Aug 2023) and met leaders of the different ethnic groups, victims, intellectuals, social & human right activist, media persons, politicians and also visited the relief camps to ascertain the ground realities of the crises, to know why the turmoil is continuing for more than three months & why the government is not taking any effort to stop it.
Manipur crises is complicated in nature due to the involvement of multiple factors such as the HC ruling in favour of the long-standing demand of Meitei’s for ST status. Kuki’s demand for separate administration, Statehood / Union Territory. Insurgency in both the Communities supported by Government. Illegal Infiltration of militant groups / Chin Refugees from neighbouring Myanmar. Existence of Mistrust among Meitei & Kuki. Poppy cultivation and its export & Complicity of Mr Biren Singh Government.
Manipur is not new to turmoil. The insurgency-ridden sensitive state of North East has unstressed strife, bloodshed, ethnical disturbances and blockades for decades. But the conflict between Meitei’s & Kuki’s erupted on May 3rd and is continuing to date and both the communities are blaming each other for triggering the strife.
During the visit, they observed the following:
Law & Order: Looting of arms from the government armouries, police stations & police training centres by the militia, militants and migrants.
Villages possess country made- arms and even sophisticated weapons, incessant firing and arson continued, thousands of houses burnt and hundreds of churches (religious worship places) razed.
Sexual harassment of women and mob parading naked women in public has become viral & raping them & killing them, many have lost their life and houses & properties were damaged.
All show that the State machinery has completely failed to control the unrest.
Meitei’s demand for ST Status: The High Court of Manipur’s ruling that the State government to consider the demand for ST status by the Meitei community has triggered unrest in Kuki’s area. Kuki’s community is vehemently opposing this and have an apprehension that they will lose their rights on land in the hills and forest once the Meitei are given ST Status, Kuki’s complain that Meitei’s are already enjoying general, OBC & SC categories.
Demand of Kuki’s: On the other hand Kuki’s community is demanding for separate administration and statehood or at least union territory status which is objected to by Meitei’s and other neutral communities. They say that the geographical territory of the state to be preserved and should not be divided at any cost.
Insurgents: Illegal infiltration of militant groups and the Chin refugees from the neighbouring Mynammar is not continued by the army. In fact, there is a complaint that Assam Rifles 22 is supporting the insurgents in Kuki’s area & the state government is supporting the insurgents in Meteis area. The treaty signed between the government and insurgents in 2008 for suspension of operations (SOP) is of no use.
Exist of Mistrust among communities: The divide and mistrust between the majority and minority communities are deepening. There is a long history of mutual suspicion between ethnic groups in the Imphal Valley and its surrounding hills.
The government in Manipur regardless of which party comes to power, has always been dominated by plainsmen Metei and consequently, the government’s actions have after viewed through the prism of suspicion by tribals.
The efforts taken by the government to evict insurgents tribals restless from reserve forest & protected forest is seen as an anti-tribal move, leading to widespread dis contest among Kuki and other tribal communities. The failure of the government to provide rehabilitation to the evicted tribals increase the mistrust.
Visit to Relief Camps: They further visited a relief camp in NB College, wherein 350 Meitei are housed including 150 women & 75 children. More than 60 thousand people from both communities are kept in different relief camps, the government provides rations. There is no arrangement for drinking water and they bring from outside markets. The Children are admitted to nearby schools, and because of the violence, many children have become orphans. Accessibility to the relief camps is also restricted and becomes a difficult task. Apart from BSF, CRPF, Local police etc., The community women themselves do self-policing by checking the vehicles & enquiring about the visitors passing through their villages.
Lack of Development: Despite the double-engine Sarkar ruling the State for the second time, there is no development in the State. There are no industries, no promotion of tourism and agriculture.
Only rice is cultivated as a rain crop and no other crops were tried.
The State has a very good scope & potential for tourism industries and agriculture. No Institutions for higher education and children are moving to other States for pursuing higher education.
Poppy Cultivation: Poppy is mainly cultivated in the hills by the tribals of Kuki’s & insurgents from Myanmar. But we learnt that only cultivation is done by Kuki’s and Business people, agents, middlemen, and exporters all belong to Metei Community. But there exists a close nexus between the Kuki cultivators and Meitei business people, politicians and ruling dispersion.
They demanded that both the Central & State government should take the earliest effort to stop the violence immediately. Everyone is questioning the inaction of the government.
The Chief Minister should own moral responsibility and resign.
Considering the gravity of the situation the Central government should put all its political calculations aside and impose the president’s rules, the entire area should be brought under the control of the military.
Resettlement and rehabilitation of the victims of the respective places.
Govt. with the help of civil society groups should initiate peace talks with both communities to bring peace & harmony to the State.
The Infiltration of Militants/insurgents must be stopped immediately in the territory. The government should identify the infiltration and evict them.
Children who become orphans be taken special attention as their futures become uncertain.
Looted & illegal arms to be recovered from the militants and miscreants belonging to both communities to stop further bloodshed. Poppy cultivation & drug business must be stopped immediately.
Internet connections to be restored to avoid spreading unsustainable rumours & mistrust. Necessary connectivity is to be taken to the trauma-affected people.