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17 Aug, 2023 14:55

Head of India’s Manipur appeals for peace amid ethnic violence

The chief minister of the state told RT that both local and federal authorities are working around the clock to help restore normalcy
Head of India’s Manipur appeals for peace amid ethnic violence

The situation in India’s northeastern state of Manipur, where ethnic violence has been raging since May, is slowly returning to normal, with no new major incidents reported in the past week, Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh has said in the interview with RT’s Chandrani Sinha.  

Reiterating a message he delivered earlier this week on India’s Independence Day, the chief minister appealed for peace in the state, which can be achieved if the communities affected by the ongoing violence adopt the path of “forgiving and forgetting.” 

I want to appeal to all my brothers as sisters, Meiteis and Kukis, or Naga, whoever [lives] in the state, we live together, just from the time immemorial, and we have to live together, and the misinformation and miscommunication should be sorted out,” Singh stated.

Direct discussions, interactions are very important. And one more important thing is that forgiveness and forgetfulness are in the largest interest of humanity, for the future generation. It is my honest appeal to the residents of Manipur and India, to help bring peace in Manipur.”  

According to Singh, normalcy has been slowly returning to the state, and no major incidents of violence have been reported in the past 7-8 days, after India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah addressed the situation on several occasions, including during a no-confidence motion debate in the parliament.

The chief minister also noted that his government and the federal authorities have been working together to normalize the situation in Manipur. “We are having meetings two times a week with legislators, ministers, officers, and we are examining loopholes and trying to fill it up, and the center is helping us, guiding us. I hope the normalcy soon will be totally in the state,” Singh said.  

Over 160 people have been killed and several hundred injured in the ethnic clashes that have been raging in the state since this past May. Among the triggers of the violence was a Tribal Solidarity March was held to protest the demand of the majority Meitei community for Scheduled Tribe status. Meiteis, who live mainly in the Imphal Valley, account for about 53% of Manipur's population, while Kukis, Nagas and other tribes that constitute around 40%, reside mostly in the hills.

According to the news agency PTI, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday assigned 53 officers, including 29 women, drawn from its units across the country to probe the cases of violence in Manipur. This is understood to be the first mobilization of its kind where such a large number of women officers have been pressed into service at one time, unnamed officials told the agency. With society divided along ethnic lines, the CBI faces the critical task of avoiding allegations of bias during the Manipur operation, as any involvement of people from one of the communities involved in the unrest will likely result in finger-pointing, the officials noted.