New Delhi : A day after Home Minister Amit Shah told the Lok Sabha that the ongoing violence in Manipur started because of the “Kuki infiltrators”, a tribal body from the northeastern state on Thursday slammed him and said his statement reflected the opinion of N. Biren Singh-led government.
Lone Mizo National Front (MNF) Rajya Sabha member from Mizoram K. Vanlalvena also protested Shah’s comments on Manipur tribals.
“Home Minister said that tribals in Manipur are Myanmarese. We are not Myanmarese, we are Indians. We have been living in India since British administrations, we have been living here for over 200 years,” Vanlalvena told the Rajya Sabha amid noisy scenes.
Tribal leaders on Thursday said that the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) and all Kuki-Zo tribals feel let down by the Home Minister for his comments in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday regarding the ethnic conflict in Manipur.
Senior ITLF leader and spokesman Ginza Vualzong said that three months of violence has led to the deaths of more than 130 Kuki-Zo tribals, the displacement of 41,425 tribal civilians, and the complete physical and emotional separation of Meteis and tribals.
“And the best explanation that the Home Minister can come up with is the entry of refugees from Myanmar. Mizoram has welcomed more than 40,000 refugees from Myanmar and displaced people from Manipur, and it is still the most peaceful state in India,” Vualzong said in a statement.
The ITLF said that the Scheduled Tribe demand by the majority community, the government notification on forest reserves which would evict tribals from their lands, and the demonising of tribals by the Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh) and radical Meitei intellectuals are the reasons why the trust deficit grew between Meiteis and tribals, which culminated in the sectarian clashes.
It said that accusing refugees, who are some of the most deprived and helpless sections in any community, of starting a conflict at this scale is just plain wrong.
“So many innocent people have died under his (Manipur CM) watch, and violence continues unabated after three months. Many of his own ministers have made submissions to the Central government saying law and order has completely collapsed in the state. Despite all this, he is still being feted by the Central government instead of being sacked. We appeal to the Home Minister to rise above party politics in dealing with the crisis in Manipur,” the ITLF said.
The Home Minister on Wednesday held a meeting with the six-member delegation of ITLF, led by its secretary Muan Tombing, in Delhi to discuss their demands, which include a separate state for the tribals. Sources said that Shah rejected the demand of a separate administration or separate state for the tribals in Manipur.
ITLF sources said that taking note of their apprehensions about the safety and security of the residents of the hill areas of the state, Shah assured that deployment of Central forces will be further strengthened and reoriented to plug the vulnerable gap areas.
The state forces will operate under the direction of the state security advisor and in conjunction with the Central forces in the hill areas, Vualzong said, referring to the decisions taken in the meeting.