New Delhi: Seventy-nine days after severe ethnic conflict broke out in Manipur, at a time when about 150 people have lost their lives in the state and tens of thousands have been displaced and are living in temporary camps, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally made a statement on the matter. Even now, though, he refused to comment on Manipur alone – and brought up two Congress-ruled states which have seen no similar scale of violence of late in the very same sentence.
Modi’s remarks came a day after a harrowing video of two Kuki women being paraded naked in Kangkopi, Manipur went viral. The incident occurred on May 4, and the women in question have alleged that the police was present at the site of the incident and did nothing to help them. The FIR on the incident states that one of the women was gang raped.
Many have pointed out that the incident may have come to light earlier – forcing authorities to take action – if the state had not ordered a complete internet shutdown.
“The government is likely to act against Twitter over the circulation of videos that “could lead to problems in law and order”, which are not permitted under law, official sources were quoted by NDTV as saying.
“Today when I have come among you, standing near this temple of democracy, my heart is filled with pain and anger. The incident that has come to light in Manipur is a shameful incident for any civilised society. …What has happened to the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven. The incident is shameful for the country, the guilty will not be spared,” Modi said outside the parliament building on Thursday morning, at the start of the monsoon session. Opposition parties have demanded that the Manipur violence be discussed in parliament immediately.
“I ask all chief ministers to ensure that in their respective states, the law and order system be made stronger. Particularly when it comes to the protection of our mothers and sisters, the strictest action must be taken. Whether it is in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh or Manipur, in any corner of this country, politicians must rise above political rhetoric to ensure women are respected,” Modi said. The other two states he brought up – Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan – are currently ruled by Congress governments, and have not recently witnessed violence anywhere near the scale seen in Manipur.
Many have been demanding that Modi make a public statement on the situation in Manipur over the last 2.5 months and have criticised his silence. Even now, however, the prime minister did not say anything about the larger ethnic violence, the deaths, the destruction of homes and livelihoods, the alleged targeting of tribal communities by the state or the protests demanding chief minister N. Biren Singh’s resignation.