Manipur: "Violence will stop the moment Biren Singh is able to rein in his militia," says BJP MLA

BJP leader Paolienlal Haokip, of the Kuki community himself, told Newslaundry that the PM, home minister and CM complicit in the violence raging in the state

Screengrab from Newslaundry interview with Paolienlal Haokip
Screengrab from Newslaundry interview with Paolienlal Haokip

NH Digital

In an interview to Newslaundry, the Paolienlal Haokip, a BJP MLA from Manipur, said that the Meitei–Kuki clashes are mostly state sponsored and that the Meitei militia are supported by the police commandos in their attacks on Kuki inhabited villages.

“The violence will stop the moment (chief minister) Biren Singh is able to rein in his militia,” he said, holding prime minister Narendra Modi and chief minister N. Biren Singh, complicit in the crisis that has engulfed the state since 3 May.

He added, “Proof of state complicity can clearly be discerned from the fact that what started out as a purely ethnic communal violence was later on attempted to be portrayed by the chief minister as the state’s war on ‘narco terrorists.”

Haokip, who himself belongs to one of the Kuki tribes, tweeted on the day the prime minister broke his silence on Manipur at the start of the monsoon session of Parliament: “Sometimes you wish the Kuki Zo women paraded naked and raped and their menfolk who were killed before their eyes were cheetahs. The PM might take it more seriously.”

The MLA had written a letter to the state BJP president even before the violence erupted in May in Manipur, voicing concern over chief minister N. Biren Singh’s speeches and actions. He and other Kuki MLAs from the BJP also had written a letter to the prime minister, seeking an appointment before Modi left for the US last month. He is yet to receive any response from either.

But the BJP MLA is still hopeful that the prime minister and the BJP will intervene to rescue the state and the Kuki-Zo minority in the state.

Kuki-Zo MLAs from Manipur had camped in New Delhi in April to complain against the chief minister pursuing divisive and partisan policies in the state. Several Kuki-Zo MLAs had resigned, one who was advisor to N. Biren Singh and another from the state tourism corporation, complaining that no work had been allotted to them.

Haokip, himself belonging to one of the Kuki tribes, had objected to the eviction drives in the hills and written to say that the state needed a "proper settlement policy for both the Hills and the Valley, not erratic, whimsical and targeted evictions. Matters of policy needs to be discussed within the cabinet and the Assembly, not [implemented] at the whims and fancies of one person".

Haokip, an alumnus of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, joined BJP in 2021 and became an MLA the very next year. Indeed, he had advertised himself as grateful for the BJP leadership's trust, especially the figureheads of Narendra Modi and N. Biren Singh.

Now he feels disappointed at the prime minister’s silence on Manipur and says that while he understands Modi's urgency in visiting the US, his silence for 79 days was disheartening. Among other things, he has been making the following points:

1. Most of the resource allocations to the state had always been appropriated by the Meitei community in the Imphal valley, by dint of their control over the legislature, the executive and the judiciary

2. The Hill Areas Committee of the Legislative Assembly was denied its constitutional functions and powers.

3. The release of the delimitation commission's report was stalled because it recommended allocating more seats to the tribes to match the increased percentage in the state's population.

4. Tribal lands were designated as reserved forests and protected forests without following the norms that require the tribal communities to claim pre-existing rights, if any.

5. Reservations in the state government jobs had been ‘managed’ so as to curtail due representation of the scheduled tribes.

6. Corruption has been at such high levels that most tribal people could not deal with it, further limiting their access to opportunities.

Writing recently for India Today, Haokip said of the inter-community relationships in Manipur, “However long a marriage might have lasted, when it fails, there’s no point trying to remain in such a marriage. Likewise, when differences have run so deep, the road ahead needs to be carved respecting the differences. The Union government must ensure that all sections of citizens, including the Kuki-Zo community, enjoy the privilege to be happily Indian, and not be prisoners of their neighbouring community’s pride and greed.”

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Published: 24 Jul 2023, 5:14 PM