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Manipur: PM’s words sound hollow

Manipur: PM’s words sound hollow

When he spoke about it on two occasions, he did not speak right.

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Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 23:24 IST
Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 23:24 IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has never got it right about Manipur, both with his words and with his silence. For most part of the last one year, when the state went through strife and violence, he chose to be silent about it.

When he spoke about it on two occasions, he did not speak right. Months after violence broke out in the state, he told Parliament, when he was forced to talk about the situation in the state through a no-confidence motion, that the central and the state governments were working towards peace.

He assured the people of Manipur that peace would be restored soon. It still has not been restored, but the Prime Minister claimed last week that there is a marked improvement in the situation because of the timely intervention of the central government and efforts made by the state government. On both occasions, the Prime Minister’s words sounded hollow. 

The state government, headed by Biren Singh, has been considered to be a part of the problem in Manipur. The government has been seen to be biased in favour of the Meitei, and its decisions and actions have aggravated the situation.

The state has now been polarised between the Meitei and the Kuki. The Kuki have completely lost faith in the state government. The statements of Biren Singh have often inflamed the situation. So there is no reason to claim, as the Prime Minister did, that the state government’s efforts helped to improve the situation.

There is no evidence to claim that the central government’s  intervention was timely or that it helped in any way, either.

The main criticism against the central government has been that it did not intervene, and did not take any action, timely or late, to deal with the situation.

There have even been accusations against both the central and the state governments that they wanted the polarisation in the state to increase, indeed that Manipur is a laboratory now for such polarisation. Whether it was intended or not, inaction or wrong actions have had that effect and have widened the divisions. 

While the Prime Minister made these claims, Union Home Minister Amit Shah made an almost contradictory statement -- that it would be the “priority of the next government”, which he assumed would also be under PM Modi, would be to restore peace in Manipur through discussions and without dividing the state.

Shah’s statement is an acknowledgment that the situation in the state is not normal and peace is yet to be restored. The question arises as to why the government did not make restoration of peace through discussion and dialogue the priority all these months. The state is virtually divided into the Meitei-dominated plains and the Kuki-dominated hill areas. The government brought about this situation by its omissions and commissions, and violence is still continuing.

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