New Delhi, 24 June (MTNews): Union Home Minister Amit Shah called for the first-ever all-party meeting on Saturday, 24 June, on the Manipur crisis. According to reports, the meeting witnessed a united demand from almost all the Opposition leaders present, urging the immediate dispatch of an all-party delegation to Imphal. Additionally, they questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” on the matter.


Reportedly, opposition leaders, particularly from the Congress party, voiced their dissatisfaction with the handling of the law and order situation and demanded the removal of Chief Minister N Biren Singh. Notably, Biren Singh was absent from the meeting. The Opposition criticized his alleged failure to address the crisis effectively and pressed the government to provide a clear timeline for restoring peace and normalcy in the state.


According to sources, the Union Home Secretary delivered a comprehensive presentation on the government’s actions taken thus far, including Amit Shah’s visit to Manipur and the establishment of committees. These committees include a 51-member peace committee and a Commission of Inquiry, headed by former Gauhati High Court chief justice Ajai Lamba, to investigate the violence.


Okram Ibobi Singh, who had served as Manipur’s Chief Minister for 15 years, expressed disappointment with the limited time allotted to him to present his views. Singh claimed that he was only given 5-7 minutes to speak and was denied permission to speak at the end. Home Minister Amit Shah assured Singh that they could have a separate, detailed discussion on the matter.


Apart from the Congress, other parties such as the RJD and CPI(M) also demanded the removal of Chief Minister Biren Singh. The Shiv Sena (UBT) and the DMK held the Chief Minister accountable for the crisis. The consensus among the opposition parties was that Biren Singh had demonstrated a “partisan manner” in his approach.
The Congress later released an eight-point charter of demands, of which some reportedly were raised by Ibobi Singh at the meeting.


“The state government has failed miserably in providing effective governance when it has been needed most. The Chief Minister himself has admitted publicly twice his failure to handle the situation and deal with the crisis. He has also asked for forgiveness of the people. On March 11, 2023, he unilaterally withdrew the state government’s commitment to the tripartite Agreement on Suspension of Operations with certain militant groups claiming to be upholders of Kuki interests. This move of his was later rejected by the Union Home Ministry, but by then enough damage had been done. This is one glaring example in a series of blunders. The Chief Minister should be replaced immediately,” the Congress said.


Another point raised by the party was the absence of the Prime Minister at the meeting, and that he had “not said a single word on Manipur in the past 50 days”. “This all-party meeting would have been better if it had been chaired by the PM and had been held in Imphal. This would have sent a clear message to the people of Manipur that their pain and distress is also a matter of national anguish,” the Congress said.


The party also spoke of the need to disarm all armed groups immediately without any compromise, ensuring no compromise with the unity and territorial integrity of Manipur in any manner, and a hearing to end addressal of the grievances of each and every community.


Speaking to reporters later, BJP Manipur in-charge Sambit Patra said Shah had told the meeting that since the violence began in the state, there has “not been a single day” when he did not speak to Modi on the situation or the PM did not give instructions. “Efforts to restore peace in the state are being taken on the instructions of the PM,” he said.


Uddhav Thackeray’s Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said, “We raised issues like the education of students being hampered, and other sensitive issues. Till now, the Centre hasn’t done anything constructive. But we have demanded an all-party delegation visit the state next week.”


Silent ‘coffin march’ held in Manipur’s Churachandpur District to remember victims


Nearly two months after the outbreak of ethnic clashes between the Meitei and Scheduled Tribe Kuki-Zomi communities in Manipur, tribal student organizations organized a silent ‘coffin march’ on 24 June in Churachandpur district to pay homage to those who lost their lives in the violence.


Thousands of protesters dressed in black participated in the march, which covered a distance of approximately three kilometers along the highway, starting from the district hospital in the town and culminating at the Peace Ground in Tuibong, where the district’s mini-secretariat is located.


As a symbolic representation of the tribals who perished during the clashes, the demonstrators carried 100 empty black coffins throughout the procession. Along the highway, villagers stood in solidarity, paying their respects to the deceased. Each village along the route offered a gun salute to honor the victims using single-barrel guns.


The dummy coffins were then placed at a protest site near the mini-secretariat. Following the march, representatives from a joint women’s body and the families of the deceased laid wreaths on the coffins as a mark of remembrance. The protesters reiterated their demand for a separate administration in light of the ongoing ethnic clashes.


Kuki community protest at Jantar Mantar


Meanwhile, civil society groups and members of the Kuki community staged protests at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi today.


Emphasizing their demand for a separate administration, the protesters highlighted that they would be willing to settle for such an arrangement if it could bring about peace in the region. They urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the issue, even while he is currently in the United States.


In addition, the demonstrators called for the imposition of President’s Rule in the state, expressing a lack of confidence in the current state government’s ability to address the situation effectively.

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