Manipur burning: Centre, state must go all out to stop violence - The Tribune India

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Manipur burning

Centre, state must go all out to stop violence

Manipur burning

Photo for representation. PTI file photo

IT’S been almost five months since clashes broke out in Manipur during a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ organised by residents of hill districts in protest against the majority Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status. Ethnic violence has claimed more than 180 lives so far, with the Central and state governments failing miserably in bringing the situation under control. Manipur took centre stage in July when a video clip of two women being paraded naked shook the nation’s conscience, prompting PM Narendra Modi to break his silence on the crisis in the northeastern state, hours before the start of the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

Things, however, were soon back to square one. The Manipur mayhem receded into the background amid the nationwide euphoria over the success of Chandrayaan-3 and the G20 summit. Now, a fresh wave of violence has erupted in state capital Imphal after photos of the bodies of two youths — who had gone missing in July — went viral on social media. A mob consisting mostly of students vandalised the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Imphal West. Repeatedly accused of laxity, the Centre has extended the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) by six months in most parts of the state and transferred senior IPS officer Rakesh Balwal from Jammu and Kashmir to his parent cadre Manipur. It’s a moot point whether these moves will make any difference on the ground.

Unfortunately, Manipur was reduced to a mere footnote during the special session of Parliament held last week, even as Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge criticised the Prime Minister for not visiting the strife-torn state. The ruling BJP’s decision to persist with Chief Minister N Biren Singh has not helped matters either. Bringing the warring groups to the negotiating table is a prerequisite for the restoration of peace and public order, but the powers that be seem powerless to make that happen anytime soon.


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