Manipur CM busy following Amit Shah on Rajasthan campaign trail

Why is the Manipur chief minister devoutly posting video clips of Amit Shah campaigning in Rajasthan and other states, but not of prime minister Narendra Modi?

Manipur CM N Biren Singh (Photo: National Herald archives)
Manipur CM N Biren Singh (Photo: National Herald archives)

AJ Prabal

There is something amiss about the posts of Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh on X. Barring reposting two messages from Manipur Police, one on the alleged arrest of a ‘man from Myanmar’ with narcotics and another saying that a search for two missing Meitei boys was on, he is silent on what is happening in the state.

Even more curiously, the chief minister has posted several videos of Union home minister Amit Shah addressing meetings in Bihar and campaigning in Rajasthan, but not a single clip of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the campaign trail, though he did post a video clip in which BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra exhorts people to read a book on Narendra Modi’s role during the Emergency between 1975 and '77.

Screenshot from @NBirenSingh on X
Screenshot from @NBirenSingh on X
Screenshot from @NBirenSingh on X
Screenshot from @NBirenSingh on X

Similarly, the Indian Army’s handle on X scrupulously avoids mention of its operations in Manipur. The @spearcorps of the army, which had since May 2023 posted several videos of mobs obstructing the army and which had reportedly sought the Editors’ Guild’s help to fight a purported disinformation campaign against it, has clearly been told to let Manipur be.

The first week of November, however, has been eventful. Commandos of Manipur Police came under attack on the highway to Moreh. The SDPO at Moreh, the town bordering Myanmar, was killed in sniper fire. Manipur Police were accused of ransacking and vandalising Kuki homes at Moreh, forcing villagers to take shelter in an Assam Rifles camp.

Videos surfaced of Assam Rifles personnel providing ‘cover fire’ to Manipur Police commandos and rescuing injured policemen. Videos also surfaced of a group of vigilantes with light machine guns stopping a security patrol near the chief minister’s official residence at night.

That was not all. This past week saw several members of a serving soldier’s family abducted by a mob. A hidden cache of arms and ammunition were discovered near a crematorium in the Khundrakpam area of Imphal East, with the recovered items including SMG carbine and hand grenades.

To top it all, two teenagers, Avinash Maibam alias Khaba and Ningthoujam Anthony alias Temba, went missing.

The distrust between communities is at an all-time high, with Nagas sternly telling the other two communities, Meiteis and Kukis, to mind their own business and sort out their own differences without trying to create mischief in the ‘Naga’ areas.

Kukis have begun complaining that Assam Rifles, the sentinels of the east, have abandoned them, apparently under instructions; that they have to deal with Manipur Police as well as armed vigilante groups of Meiteis. The Meiteis in turn accuse Kukis of shooting farmers, kidnapping children, killing state government officials and obstructing supply of essential goods by blockading highways.

Six months since ethnic conflict erupted in the state, the situation is far from under control. Four tribals, members of a soldier’s family, including his mother, went missing after they were snatched by a mob when their vehicle was stopped at a security checkpoint near Kangchup Chingkhong village in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district on Tuesday.

The soldier’s 65-year-old father was rescued by security forces present at the spot, but received multiple injuries and has been admitted to hospital in a critical state.

Vigilante groups exchanged fire in the K. Songlung hill range, close to Koutruk and Tairenpokpi this week, when two policemen and seven civilians sustained injuries and had to be hospitalised.

While the two teenage Meitei boys went missing on Sunday, and are yet to be traced, on Tuesday police claimed to have arrested two of the accused, both allegedly members of Kuki Revolutionary Army (U); arrested from Senapati district, a Naga dominated area. They were produced before a court in Imphal West via video conferencing as they could not be produced physically due to the ongoing “ethnic crisis,” said media reports.

Now that election in neighbouring Mizoram is over, security forces and the government have another opportunity to initiate a dialogue between the communities. Unless a political solution is found soon, the winter months are likely to test them even more.

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