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Modi breaks long silence on Manipur

Modi breaks long silence on Manipur

He has spoken finally, and his claims of normalcy are exaggerated.

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Last Updated : 07 July 2024, 21:47 IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the Rajya Sabha, in his first remarks in many months on Manipur, that many steps have been taken to improve the situation in the state and efforts are still being made to restore full normalcy. He had for long evaded any mention of Manipur. The President’s address to the joint session of parliament also did not mention Manipur. It was perhaps the pressure from parliament and elsewhere, including the critical comments made by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, that forced the prime minister to speak about the situation there. Modi expressed satisfaction over the decline of violence in the state, but the ground situation is different from the picture that he sought to present. Bimol Akoijam, MP from Inner Manipur, gave a vivid picture of that in his speech in parliament. 

Mere words won’t do. There is much to be done in Manipur if normalcy is to be restored. Modi said schools have reopened and examinations are being conducted. But many of the schools are ‘Schools on Wheels,’ run by Vidya Bharati, which make the rounds of relief camps. That is not normal schooling. Over 60,000 people live in relief camps. There can be no normalcy till they return to their homes and rebuild their lives. The state is virtually divided into two regions, and the territories are guarded by armed personnel. The two main communities in the state, the Meiteis and the Kukis, do not enter each other’s territory. Vigilantes are active. Arms looted from government armouries are in free circulation. As Bimol Akoijam said in parliament, there are security forces in every sq. km of the state. That too is not a sign of normalcy. 

Chief Minister Biren Singh has been part of the problem in Manipur. As long as he is in office, no efforts of the state government or the Centre to restore normalcy will be credible and effective. Modi blamed the Opposition for politicising Manipur. But he himself resorted to politics by blaming unnamed elements for fuelling the fire, and criticising the Congress for imposing President’s rule on Manipur many times in the past. That does not answer the questions raised about his government’s handling of the present situation. He has belatedly made a statement about the state. He must follow it up with sincere efforts to restore peace and normalcy. He could also make a gesture of his sincerity by visiting the state which he has avoided for over a year. 

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