New Delhi: Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday (May 25) made his first public statement about the violence in Manipur that began on May 3. He said that he will visit the state next week and speak to all the stakeholders, in what will be the first visit from a senior Central minister ever since tensions escalated.
“I will go to Manipur soon and stay there for three days but before that, both groups should remove mistrust and suspicion among themselves and ensure that peace is restored in the state,” he said while in Guwahati, Assam, according to Hindustan Times.
“The Centre will ensure that justice is delivered to all those who suffered in the clashes in the state, but people must hold dialogue to ensure peace….in the last six years, prior to the recent clashes, there was no blockade or bandhs in Manipur and people must ensure the return of such a situation again,” Shah said.
A delegation from various political parties from Manipur met Shah on Thursday, where too Shah reportedly iterated his plans to visit the state in an attempt to restore peace.
According to Hindustan Times, Shah will reach Manipur on May 29 and stay for three days.
This week saw renewed escalations in the state, with one person being killed and several houses burnt. According to The Indian Express, Imphal looked deserted on Thursday, with a full curfew having been imposed in both Imphal East and Imphal West districts. “Nobody wants to venture out given the prevailing situation. There are too many barricades and checkings. People go out only during emergencies,” Th Christopher, a resident of Imphal East, told the newspaper.
More than 70 people have died, 200 been injured and over 40,000 reportedly displaced in the ethnic violence that began on May 3 so far. There is heavy army and paramilitary presence in the state, particularly in areas seen as sensitive.
The tensions arose out of the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status, which the Gauhati high court supported. Hill tribes in Manipur feel it would be unfair to grant the majority Meitei community ST status, and would impinge on their right to jobs and education. Prices of essential commodities in the state are reportedly rising and tensions persist.
According to The Times of India, Shah on Thursday had blamed the court verdict for the escalated tensions in the state. Earlier, in their statements to the Supreme Court, both the Manipur and Union governments had said that the violence was due to the influx of ‘illegal immigrants’ and poppy cultivation in the reserved forests.