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Making Sense of MHA Envoy’s Visit to Manipur

by Rinku Khumukcham
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Making Sense of MHA Envoy’s Visit to Manipur

It is evident from the political developments in Manipur that the recent surge in violence has intensified the political crisis in the state, prompting Chief Minister N Biren Singh to convene a meeting of MLAs. This meeting could be considered the first united effort by lawmakers to address the escalating conflict. Subsequently, 35 ruling MLAs collectively sought positive intervention from the Central government to curb persistent violence since May of the previous year. Their collective voice indicates a semblance of unity among Manipur’s political leadership.
The backdrop of the situation could be the mounting pressure from groups like Arambai Tenggol, coupled with the assertions of Joint Action Committees (JACs) and civil society organizations like COCOMI on the state government. Earlier, Arambai Tenggol has invited to Meitei MLAs and Ministers, including Chief Minister N Biren Singh, through social media handle for a meeting on January 24 at Kangla Uttra. Explicit statements from the ruling BJP leadership in Manipur, particularly the Chief Minister’s assertion that Central forces have no place in Manipur if they are merely observers, indicate brewing dissatisfaction among political leaders in the state regarding the central government’s role in the ongoing conflict.
In response to these developments, a special three-member team, led by AK Mishra, Advisor and Interlocutor for Kuki SOO insurgent group talks and Naga peace talks, arrived in Manipur on Monday. The team, including Rajesh Kumble and Mandeep Singh from SIB Manipur and SIB New Delhi, underscores the critical nature of the crisis by engaging stakeholders, assessing the situation, and exploring potential solutions. Furthermore, there are also speculations that of Sambit Patra, BJP Manipur incharge, and Abhay Giri, BJP Northeast incharge, are arriving at Imphal. These developments suggest that the BJP at the central level is either keen on engaging stakeholders in the state for a way forward given the semblance of unity among Meitei MLAs or it is facing a brewing crisis within Manipur BJP.
Ministry of Home Affairs’ envoy also met Arambai Tenggol leaders on Monday. Although the details of the discussion remain unclear, Korounganba Khuman, the leader of Arambai Tenggol, shared the group’s demands on social media. The demands include an NRC exercise with 1951 as the base year, deportation of illegal immigrants, termination of the SoO agreement with Kuki militants, relocation of Myanmar refugees to Mizoram, expedited border fencing, and action against alleged illegal poppy cultivation by Assam Rifles. Additionally, they called for the removal of Assam Rifles, deployment of another paramilitary force, and the removal of illegal Kuki immigrants from the ST list. Arambai Tenggol emphasized that peace relies on meeting these demands, and the MHA envoy assured them of conveying the requests to the ministry.
It is anticipated that Kuki-Zo organizations, including the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), may demand the replacement of state forces with central security forces. The opposing demands pose a challenge for the ministry, requiring careful consideration to prevent further unrest. Unity among the valley MLAs becomes crucial in finding a politically acceptable way forward, and the central government seems cautious about any steps that could be perceived as imposition, considering the potential impact on the BJP’s long-term political agenda in the state.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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