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5 Sep, 2023 08:32

India refutes 'presumptive and misleading' UN allegations

New Delhi has dismissed an assessment of the situation in the northeastern state of Manipur by the UN body
India refutes 'presumptive and misleading' UN allegations

The Indian government has rejected a UN report on ethnic violence in the northeastern state of Manipur, after being accused of an “inadequate humanitarian response” to the “grave” situation in the region.

In a statement issued on Monday to the Special Procedures Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Indian Mission to the UN underscored that the situation in Manipur was peaceful and stable and that the Indian government was committed to taking requisite steps to maintain peace and stability, PTI news agency reported.

The Permanent Mission of India completely rejects the news release as it is not only unwarranted, presumptive and misleading but also betrays a complete lack of understanding on the situation in Manipur and the steps taken by Government of India to address it,” said the statement cited by PTI.

The press release issued by UN officials on Monday noted that experts “raised the alarm” over reports of “serious human rights violations and abuses” in Manipur, including alleged acts of sexual violence, extrajudicial killings, home destruction, forced displacement, torture, and ill-treatment. UN experts also said they were “alarmed by the reported misuse of counterterrorism measures to legitimize acts of violence and repression against ethnic and religious minorities.” 

The UN statement went on to express “serious concerns about the apparent slow and inadequate response by the Government of India” to the cases of violence in the state.

India’s permanent mission expressed disappointment that the Special Procedures mandate-holders chose to issue a press release without waiting for input sought from the Indian government after the two sides established a joint communication on the same topic on August 29, 2023.

New Delhi reiterated that law enforcement authorities and security forces were committed to dealing with situations strictly “in accordance with the principles of legal certainty, necessity, proportionality, and non-discrimination.”

Violent clashes between ethnic communities, predominantly the Meiteis and the Kukis, erupted in May this year and are primarily centered on the Meitei community’s quest for the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status that would provide the community benefits and protections under the Constitution, and the Kuki tribe’s opposition to this demand. The violence led to over 160 deaths, while tens of thousands were displaced. 

Responding to the no-trust motion against the Union Government moved by the opposition parties in August, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the public that peace would soon return to Manipur and both federal and state governments would hold accountable those responsible for the atrocities. 

On August 18, Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh told RT that the situation in the state was returning to normal and that central and local authorities were working together to restore law and order in the state.  “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 that normalcy soon will be totally in the state,” Singh said.  

To restore a sense of faith in the rule of law in the state, the Supreme Court of India in August appointed an officer, Dattatraya Padsalgikar, former deputy National Security Advisor (NSA), to monitor the ongoing investigation of multiple cases. According to the Economic Times, Padsalgikar has recently informed the Manipur governor that the first status report of the inquiry will be submitted to the relevant authority by the first week of October.