Union Home Minister Amit Shah is set to visit the border town of Moreh in Manipur, located on the India-Myanmar frontier, on Wednesday in an effort to quell tensions following a month of ethnic clashes that have left over 80 people dead.
After a late-night arrival in Imphal on Monday, Mr Shah commenced a series of meetings with various Kuki and Meitei leaders, top security officers, and the Manipur cabinet in pursuit of a resolution to the escalating ethnic violence. Aiming to restore peace in the state, he also held an all-party meeting on Tuesday evening – one of nine meetings he held in the day.
Mr Shah’s visit to Moreh, a town significantly impacted by the ongoing unrest, began around 10 am Wednesday, where he was expected to interact with Kuki civil society groups and assess the current security measures in place.
He will then travel to the Kangpokpi district around 1 pm, an area heavily populated by Kukis but also home to many Meitei villages. Kangpokpi has been one of the districts worst affected by the clashes, with religious structures and buildings of both communities targeted.
Amidst Mr Shah’s peace-brokering efforts, clashes have continued in parts of the state. Officials reported overnight gunfights between insurgents and security forces in Sugnu, Kakching district. A separate attack in Sagolmang, Imphal East resulted in civilian injury.
The ethnic violence initially erupted nearly a month ago following a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’. This march was organized by hill district tribes in response to the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. A relative period of calm lasting over a fortnight was shattered as the state experienced a sudden resurgence of clashes and gunfights over the past weekend.
The Union Home Minister is accompanied by Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Director of the Intelligence Bureau Tapan Kumar Deka. Following an evening meeting with the Manipur cabinet, five key decisions were reached, aimed at the immediate restoration of normalcy in the state. These included the improvement of law and order, expedited relief measures, compensation for the families of those killed in the violence, and the reopening of communication lines to counteract the spread of rumours.
Mr Shah directed officials to deal stringently with activities disturbing the peace in the state, while assuring a probe into the violence by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Regarding the demand from 10 tribal MLAs for a separate state for tribals, Mr Shah asserted that the territorial integrity of Manipur would not be compromised. He urged civil society leaders to play an active role in restoring peace, promising a political solution would be initiated swiftly.
During a meeting in the tribal-dominated district of Churachandpur, Mr Shah requested leaders to actively curb violence, assuring a relief of 20 tons of rice would soon be provided for the state’s tribal communities. He also took the opportunity to gather opinions on restoring normalcy in the state.