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'Future Of Manipur Is Totally Dark'

Last updated on: September 01, 2023 13:25 IST
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'The state government, state forces, commandos, police, they are all with the Meiteis in attacking Kuki tribals.'

IMAGE: Opposition MLAs outside the Manipur assembly after the assembly was adjourned sine die amid protests on the floor of the House over the ethnic violence that broke out nearly four months ago, A, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

While two Kuki Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs from the hills refused to speak about the volatile situation in the Manipur valley citing that the situation is still fluid and developing, Letzamang Haokip, the BJP's Kuki MLA from Henglep in Churachandpur district, tells Prasanna D Zore/ that violence has continued unabated in the valley and in the areas that abut the hills and the valley since May 3 when violence began.

Haokip says that the Kuki MLAs from the hills are still making attempts to meet Prime Minister Narendra D Modi and Union Home Minister Amit A Shah, but nobody seems to be listening to them in Delhi.


How is the situation in Manipur today almost four months after the violence first began in the state on May 3?

The situation is as dire as it were when the ethnic strife first began in early May this year.

The violence between the Meiteis and Kukis continues even as radical Meitei organisations and their volunteers with openly blatant support from the state police and the IRB (Indian Reserve Battalion) continue to target Kukis in the valley with total impunity.

The violence never stopped in the valley. It has become more strident now since the last couple of days. Even this morning I heard reports of deaths and injuries.

This Kuki and Meitei fight is a communal crisis that still continues.

The Manipur assembly session was convened two days ago. Did you attend the session?

None of us (Kuki and tribal MLAs from the hills) attended the session. It's impossible for any of us to go to Imphal (the state capital in the valley where the Meiteis dominate) because of security and safety reasons.

It's quite impossible for us to attend when these radical Meitei volunteers roam freely searching for Kukis and the state police supporting them.

We do have a security arrangement of two vehicles and 12-13 men, but that is absolutely inadequate given the environment of fear that has been unleashed against the Kukis in the valley.

Going there (to attend the assembly session), with security vehicles would attract unnecessary attention. One of our MLAs, Vungzagin Valte (the BJP's MLA from Thanton), was also with his security escort, but his security vehicles were burned (when the violence began early May) on May 4.

He was dragged out of his vehicle and beaten very badly. So badly, that he went into a coma and his still recuperating in a Delhi hospital. His driver, also a Kuki, was killed by the mob.

Mr Valte's bodyguards were a mix of Kukis and Meiteis, but they too were attacked by the mob.

The Kuki MLAs from the hills had proposed to the Union home ministry for a separate administration. But the Union home ministry has rejected that demand. What's the way forward for Kukis from the hills now?

The (Union) home ministry has rejected our proposal, but still the public voice still demands a separate administration.

The violence, as you said never stopped. So how will the situation return to normal? What needs to be done? What measures need to be taken?

Actually, the head of the government (chief minister of Manipur N Biren Singh) needs to be changed first and now it isn't a crisis just between the Meiteis and the Kukis but the state government, state forces, commandos, police, they are all with the Meiteis in attacking the Kuki tribals.

I am not saying that peace will return to Manipur as soon as the head of the government is removed, but then that can only start the process for peace.

What about the distrust and the hate that the Meiteis and the Kukis now have for each other? Do you think that distrust and hatred for each will vanish sooner?

I think this (enmity and hatred between the Meiteis and Kukis) will go a long way. The future of Manipur is totally dark. It's totally dark.

We have been making efforts to hold discussions with the prime minister and home minister, but nobody seems to be listening to our requests.

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