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Manipur CM, other leaders rush to Delhi to discuss prevailing situation

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, accompanied by his ministerial colleagues and MLAs, on Sunday left for Delhi, where he would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other central leaders to discuss the prevailing situation of the state, devastated in the recent ethnic violence.

Sources close to both the government and the ruling BJP said that the Chief Minister, other ministers and state leaders were supposed to go to Delhi immediately after the ethnic violence broke out on May 3, but the Prime Minister, Home Minister, other central leaders were busy with the Karnataka Assembly elections, leading to the meetings being put off.

Power, Forest and Agriculture Minister Biswajit Singh, who is as second in command to Biren Singh, and state BJP President Adhikarimayum Sharda Devi also accompanied the Chief Minister.

According to the source, the issue of the ongoing Suspension of Operation (SoO) with the Kuki militant outfits of the state is also likely to be discussed besides the ethnic violence and subsequent developments.

The Chief Minister's visit to the national capital assumes significance as the 10 tribal MLAs belonging to the Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi groups indirectly demanded a "separate state" for the tribals on Friday in the wake of recent violent clashes between the non-tribal Meiteis and the tribals.

Of the 10 MLAs, five belong to the BJP, two each from Janata Dal-United and Kuki People's Alliance (KPA) and one is an Independent. The Janata Dal-United, the KPA and the independent MLAs are also part of the BJP led alliance government in Manipur.

Claiming the lives of around 70 people and injuring a few hundred, ethnic violence, clashes, rampant arsoning, indiscriminate vandalisation, random destruction of government and private properties broke out in Manipur after a 'Tribal Solidarity March' organised in the 10 hill districts on May 3 to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

The violence was preceded by tension and protests over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land and destruction of poppy cultivation, which had led to a series of agitations in local level.

The non-tribal Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Valley areas while the tribals belonging to Naga and Kuki communities constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.

Manipur government's security advisor Kuldiep Singh said that since May 3, 71 people have died, among which 41 fell prey to the ethnic violence, while others died due to various other causes, including drug overdoses.

He said a total of 339 cases of attack and arsoning have been registered.

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