Two Manipur MPs have repeated their call for dialogue and calm a day after one of the MPs’ home in state capital Imphal was attacked by a mob. The police fired tear gas to control the crowd last night. The protesters were upset over the two MPs’ recent peace meeting in Delhi with scholars from both the communities while back in Manipur tension was still high, sources have told NDTV.
Rajkumar Ranjan Singh and Lorho S Pfoze – the only two Lok Sabha MPs from the northeast state, where violence broke out between the Meiteis and the Kukis over the Meiteis’ demand for Scheduled Tribes (ST) category – had organised an informal meeting of scholars from both the communities on Tuesday.
The meeting at the Delhi home of Mr Singh, who is also the Minister of State for External Affairs and Education, discussed how to bring peace and reconciliation in Manipur, and the way forward.
With tensions still running high between the Meiteis, who live in and around the state capital Imphal valley, and the Kuki tribe, who are settled in the hills, some people in the valley protested against Mr Singh for holding the meeting.
The police fired in the air and lobbed tear gas shells to control a large crowd of protesting Meiteis who had gathered outside Mr Singh’s Imphal home last night. He was at home when the incident happened.
“…We would like to make an earnest appeal to shun violence and follow the path of reconciliation as it is the only way forward to restore peace in our land again,” Mr Singh said in a joint statement with Mr Pfoze, the other MP from Manipur.
“As community leaders and influencers hold significant sway in shaping public opinion and fostering unity, we would like to appeal to their moral responsibility to advocate for peace, reconciliation and social cohesion to bridge divides,” the joint statement said.
Mr Singh flew back to Delhi this morning. “We will not stop our call for peace despite what happened at my home,” he told NDTV on phone, adding the risk of attack on him is a “small price to pay for lasting peace”.
The Union Minister met Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey and discussed the situation in the state before he flew back from Imphal.
Manipur has been without internet for over 22 days. Home Minister Amit Shah will visit the state on May 29 to defuse tensions. He has asked all communities to bring peace and start a dialogue.
But sporadic gunfights have been reported almost every day in Manipur and the situation is still tense, despite the army and other security forces being deployed in large numbers.
The Kukis have alleged the BJP government in Manipur led by Chief Minister N Biren Singh has been targeting them systematically – using the war on drugs campaign as the cover – to remove them from the forests and their homes in the hills. The scale of poppy cultivation in Manipur, however, has spread across 15,400 acres of land in the hills between 2017 and 2023, according to data from the state’s special anti-drugs unit Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB).
The Meiteis – who cannot buy land in the hills while the tribals, who live in the hills, are allowed to own land in the valley – are worried their place in the valley will shrink over time.