In an effort to bring about peace and stability in Manipur, Union Home Minister Amit Shah arrived in the strife-torn region on Monday night. With the aim of resolving the ongoing ethnic clashes, Shah conducted a series of meetings with Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, state ministers, senior leaders, and officials. The visit, spanning four days, focused on assessing the situation and devising a plan to restore normalcy in the region.
The troubled state of Manipur has been grappling with ethnic conflict for nearly a month. After a period of relative calm, clashes and firing between militants and security forces reignited on Sunday, resulting in a tragic increase in the death toll. As of now, the number of casualties stands at 80, with three more lives lost on Monday and two individuals falling victim to militant gunfire.
To address the escalating situation, the Indian Army and paramilitary personnel have been conducting combing operations in the Imphal valley and surrounding districts. Their objective is to confiscate illegal arms caches and restore law and order. Furthermore, joint efforts by the Army, Assam Rifles, police, state administration, and civil society organizations led to the successful evacuation of stranded villagers in violence-affected areas. Around 2,000 Meitei villagers were relocated to the Pangaltabi Relief Camp, while approximately 328 Kuki villagers found safe haven in Sajik Tampak.
The Defense Ministry’s spokesperson highlighted the swift action taken by the Army, which averted further loss of life and instances of arson. The operations were conducted with the support of aerial surveillance by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and the deployment of Mine Protected Vehicles and area domination patrols. These measures were crucial in ensuring the safe evacuation of affected communities.
The root cause of the ethnic clashes in Manipur can be traced back to a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ organized on May 3 to protest the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. Tensions escalated further due to disputes over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, leading to a series of smaller agitations. Manipur’s population consists of Meiteis, who account for around 53%, and Nagas and Kukis, who constitute approximately 40%, residing in the hill districts.
With over 10,000 personnel from the Indian Army, Assam Rifles, and other paramilitary forces deployed, the focus now shifts to restoring peace and resolving the underlying issues fueling the unrest. The visit by Union Home Minister Amit Shah is a significant step towards finding a lasting solution and bringing stability to Manipur. The central and state authorities, along with various stakeholders, must work in tandem to address the grievances, promote dialogue, and foster an environment of inclusivity and harmony in the region.