Imphal, Aug 26:
Chief Minister N. Biren Singh had stated that his government has come up with a plan to build houses for victims at the same place where they once stood before being destroyed while adding that prefabricated houses for displaced people due to the violence are being constructed.
“We require a budget of around Rs. 150 crore to rebuild the houses. I will be requesting the home minister for the fund. Currently, we are building 3000-4000 prefabricated homes and shifting the families there. The prefabricated houses are being built in hill districts such as Churachandpur, Kangpokpi as well and in valley areas such as Imphal. For now, we are shifting them to these houses so that they have a space of their own.”
Around 50000 people have been displaced in the ethnic clashes. When violence started on May 3, mobs from both Kuki and Meitei groups burnt houses in different parts of the state. The internally displaced Manipur residents are living in government camps, houses of their relatives and friends; some have also fled to Mizoram.
Responding to an allegation by tribal groups such as ITLF that the looting of police armouries across the state was done by Meiteis, Singh said both sides were to blame. “Weapons were looted by mobs in both hill districts such as Churachandpur, Tengnoupal, Kangpokpi and the valley areas. More than 1000 weapons were stolen from hill areas and around 2000-3000 from valley areas. It is worrying that civilians stole the arms, but security forces are recovering them every day. Around 1200 weapons have already been recovered. Around 26 arms were recovered day before yesterday.”
The Chief Minister said that his government has asked for more security forces from the Centre. “I asked for additional security forces because we have to complete the fencing work at the border. We have been able to fence 19 kms and are yet to complete border fencing in around 398 kms. We need security forces for this work. Higher education institutes will open soon. The forces will vacate the school building where they are living and shift elsewhere. Once the situation is better, we will also start cellular internet services.”
Commenting on the status of the probes by CBI and the status of the two women who were paraded naked, with one being gangraped, Singh said, “Manipur police have handed the case files to CBI, which will conduct an in-depth investigation. Meanwhile we have spoken to the two women. Currently they are not in Manipur. We have assured them that we will provide them security and any other aid that they require.”
He added that the opposition in Manipur had deliberately leaked the viral video, a day before the monsoon session of Parliament was to start to fuel tension. “They should have submitted the video to the police but did not. The nine people arrested are those who were directly involved in the crime. CBI is probing the case now.”
To be sure, while a FIR was filed on May 18, and police were aware of the crime even before (the women were snatched from the protection of a police team on May 4 when the incident happened), the arrests were made only after the videos went viral on July 19.
A 53-member CBI team is probing the 11 cases of violence which include three cases of alleged gangrape.
Singh described the recent controversy involving Manipur police and Assam Rifles (AR) as a misunderstanding. Many Meitei groups have been protesting against the Assam Rifles and demanding their removal from the state. Manipur police, on August 5 accused Assam Rifles of interfering in their operation and registered an FIR against the force.
Biren said, “Assam Rifles saved people from both hills and valley districts. The misunderstanding between them and the police was a one-off incident. If there is any issue, it must be sorted out. I am working with both forces to clear any misunderstanding.”