Thousands violate curfew in Imphal, Seek urgent solution to Meitei-Kuki crisis

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Imphal, May 26, 2023, IANS

Thousands of people in Imphal attempted to defy the curfew and gather in front of the residence of Minister of State for External Affairs and Education, Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, demanding a prompt resolution to the ongoing crisis between the Meitei and Kuki communities. 

However, security forces successfully prevented them from reaching the minister's residence, according to officials on Friday.
Reports from the police indicated that both men and women took part in the gathering on Thursday night, seeking an early solution to the ethnic conflict. 

Minister Rajkumar Ranjan Singh had previously written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing the pressure faced by Kuki leaders, including their 10 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), to establish a separate political administration equivalent to a separate state for the tribals. The minister left Imphal for New Delhi on Friday.

In his letter, the Minister of State emphasized the need for the continued presence of the Army and Paramilitary forces in Manipur until peace is restored and complete normalcy is achieved. He also highlighted the existing trust deficit in the region.

In response to the escalating situation, heightened security measures were implemented around the residences of ministers, MLAs, MPs, and BJP leaders in Manipur. 

The gathering in Imphal on Thursday night saw protesters shouting slogans against ministers and BJP leaders, questioning the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the face of the ethnic violence that has resulted in over 70 deaths, more than 300 injuries, and the burning of 1,700 houses since May 3.

Expressing their disappointment, an elderly woman stated that while central ministers and BJP leaders were concerned prior to the assembly elections last year, they seemed indifferent to the ongoing ethnic crisis in Manipur now.

The situation further escalated on Wednesday when the house of Manipur's Minister of PWD, Youth Affairs and Sports, Konthoujam Govindas, was vandalized by a mob in Bishnupur district. 

The minister and his family were not present during the incident. The mob, consisting mostly of women, ransacked the house, damaging the gate, windows, furniture, electronic devices, and parked vehicles. 

The mob claimed that the state government had not taken sufficient and appropriate measures to protect the locals from armed militants of another community.

While a brief relaxation of the curfew was provided in most parts of the state on Friday to allow people to acquire essential supplies and carry out urgent tasks, internet services remained suspended since May 3. 

Additionally, over 4,000 individuals were still housed in relief camps across different districts, seeking safety and assistance. (Edited)