Situation in Manipur ‘very serious’, Govt not taking strong steps: Oppn MPs after visiting state

New Delhi: “Uncertainty and fear” are looming large in Manipur with the Centre and the state government not taking any strong steps to deal with the “very serious” situation there, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged on Sunday after a delegation of opposition alliance returned from the violence-hit state following a two-day visit.

Opposition INDIA bloc asserted that if the Manipur ethnic conflict, which is lingering for around three months, is not resolved soon, it may create security problems for the country.

Earlier in the day, the delegation of 21 MPs of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) also called on Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey at Raj Bhavan in Imphal and submitted a memorandum on their observations during the visit.

“There is fear and uncertainty in the minds of the people of Manipur. The situation in Manipur is very serious,” Chowdhury, the leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, told reporters at the airport here after returning from the northeastern state.

“Uncertainty is looming large in Manipur. Thousands of people have been dislodged from their homes. They do not know when they will return to their homes. Farming has come to a halt,” he said.

“I do not know how the division between the Kukis and Meiteis will be bridged. No strong steps are taken by the government, be it the central government or the state government,” he said.

The Manipur issue has rocked Parliament’s Monsoon session with the opposition alliance pressing for a statement from the prime minister before a debate.

While the opposition has now given notice for a no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha, the government has defended its handling of the Manipur situation, stressing that it has been more proactive than the governments of the past when ethnic violence had erupted in the state.

The opposition delegation, however, said that the government machinery has completely failed to control the Manipur ethnic conflict and slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence”, accusing him of showing “brazen indifference” to the ongoing situation in the northeastern state.

“Saara Manipur jal raha hai aur PM bansuri baja rahe hain (When Manipur is burning our PM is fiddling,” Chowdhury stated in a play on the old saying ‘Nero fiddles while Rome burns’.

TMC leader Sushmita Dev said, “I think there is a complete loss of faith in the Manipur CM (N Biren Singh). Common people and masses are no longer supporting the Manipur CM.” In the memorandum submitted to Manipur Governor Uikey, the opposition MPs who signed the document demanded urgent rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected people to bring peace and harmony to the state.

“From the reports of incessant firing and arson of houses in the last few days, it is established beyond doubt that the state machinery has completely failed to control the situation for the last almost three months,” the memorandum read.

More than 160 people lost their lives and several hundred were injured since ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur on May 3, after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals — Nagas and Kukis — constitute little over 40 per cent and reside in the hill districts.