Manipur still tense: 8 reliable nuggets among the rumours

As demands for a Kuki-free Manipur on one hand and a separate 'tribal administration' on the other gain traction, the internet ban is extended to May 26.

A burnt vehicle in violence-hit Manipur (Photo Courtesy: @ashoswai/Twitter)
A burnt vehicle in violence-hit Manipur (Photo Courtesy: @ashoswai/Twitter)

NH Political Bureau

Sit-in protests continued in several parts of Imphal on Sunday with Meitei protesters demanding a National Register of Citizens (NRC), "no separate homeland" for the Kuki-Chin tribes, and no separate administration as demanded by the 10 tribal MLAs, seven of them from the BJP.

As the situation continued to be volatile, authentic information from the ground in Manipur continues to be scant and rumours continue to travel in Chinese whispers. Here are, however, eight verified facts on the stalemate:

1. Kukis complain that the internet is not banned in Imphal, the seat of the government and where the majority of the Meiteis live. The government should ban social media and VPN, they say, if it wants to prevent rumours and hate speech. The internet ban has affected people disproportionately, and professionals working remotely face the prospect of losing jobs.

2. The state government is accused of complicity, given that it allowed Meitei groups to bring out ostensibly a 'peace rally' over the weekend, in which provocative slogans were raised. While on the one hand the government prohibits assembly of more than five people under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, on the other hand it allows thousands of Meitei protestors to take out processions, complain the Kukis.

3. Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Sunday admitted to intelligence failure and administrative lapses and called upon people and communities to blame the state government but not each other. The tribal groups remain sceptical and accuse him of complicity.

4. The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) has offered to hold dialogues between all communities to resolve differences.

5. The Manipur Tribals Forum, New Delhi, has released video clips from Moreh in which priests at various temples—ISKCON, Tamil Temple, Shiv Mandir and a Hanuman mandir—deny that the temples were vandalised, aiming to dispel social media claims that they were attacked by tribals.

6. Chief Minister Biren Singh has dismissed demands to sack the 10 Kuki-Chin MLAs who have demanded a separate administration in the hills on the ground of irreconcilable differences with the tribes. "They are still family," he said on Sunday.

7. The minister of state for external affairs RK Ranjan Singh has, in a letter to the Prime Minister, demanded stern action against militants and separatists and has urged the PM to ensure the unity and integrity of Manipur.

8. While Meitei hamlets in the foothills continue to be attacked by Kuki militants, Kuki-Chin refugees have continued to seek shelter in neighbouring Mizoram.

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