Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah held a meeting with prominent personalities | Photo: ANI
Imphal/Churachandpur: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday visited Churachandpur, the scene of some of the worst rioting in the recent ethnic conflict which broke out in Manipur earlier this month, and held talks with Kuki civil society leaders.
He also held a series of discussions with different Meitei groups, women groups and prominent personalities earlier during the day in Imphal before flying to the headquarters of the hill district by the same name.
Among others, Shah who was accompanied by IB chief and union Home Secretary, met political and social leaders from the Kuki community to understand their grievances and find ways to bring peace to the northeastern state, which has witnessed a series of clashes between Meiteis and Kukis.
He held three rounds of talks with various groups such as Indigenous Tribal Leaders' Forum (ITLF), Kuki Students' Organisation (KSO) and other civil society organisations. He also met five Kuki MLAs from the BJP.
"We demanded total separation from Manipur -- both political and geographical. We also sought President's Rule as the law and order has totally collapsed in the state," ITLF secretary Muan Tombing told PTI.
The Home Minister on his part, requested the Kuki society to maintain peace for the "next 15 days" with an assurance of sending more security personnel for the safety of common people, he added.
Asked why Shah mentioned only "15 days", Tombing said, "He told us that the CBI will be entrusted with carrying out a detailed probe to find out the reasons behind this prolonged clash. Besides, a judicial enquiry will also be announced."
Earlier in the day, the government announced it will provide a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin of those who died in the ethnic conflict and a job to a family member.
The compensation amount will be borne equally by the Centre and the state, an official release said.
The decision was taken at a meeting between the union Home minister and Chief Minister N Biren Singh in the presence of the council of ministers on Monday night.
During the meeting, it was also decided to ensure that essential items such as petrol, LPG, rice and other foodgrains will be made available in large quantities to cool down rising prices.
In Imphal, Shah held consultations on Tuesday with stakeholders starting with a breakfast meeting with a group of women leaders at Raj Bhavan as part of his initiative to bring peace to the violence-hit state.
"Held a meeting with a group of women leaders (Meira Paibi) in Manipur. Reiterated the significance of the role of women in the society of Manipur. Together, we are committed to ensuring peace and prosperity in the state," Shah tweeted.
After that he met several CSO groups and prominent personalities from the Meitei community at the Secretariat before leaving for Churachandpur.
"Had a fruitful discussion with the members of the different civil society organisations today in Imphal. They expressed their commitment to peace and assured that we would together contribute to paving the way to restore normalcy in Manipur," he added.
After meeting Shah, Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) coordinator Jeetendra Ningomba said they requested the Union Home Minister to take appropriate measures to protect the territorial and administrative integrity of the state.
"We also demanded immediate abrogation of the Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with the Kuki militant groups and devise effective counter-terror actions. Besides, we asked for replacement of Assam Rifles for their softness towards the Kukis," he added.
He claimed that Shah had assured the delegation there would be no compromise on Manipur's territorial integrity.
Another group – award winning international and national sportspersons from Manipur – on Tuesday tried to meet him and later said at a press conference that they will return the prizes given to them by the government if the state's territorial integrity is compromised.
The signatories to this include L Anita Chanu (Dhyan Chand awardee), Arjuna awardees N Kunjarani Devi (Padma Shri), L Sarita Devi and W Sandhyarani Devi (Padma Shri awardees) and S Mirabai Chanu (Padma Shri).
“If Home Minister Amit Shah does not give us an assurance about the protection of the integrity of Manipur, we will return our awards given by the Indian government," Anita Chanu said at a press conference in Manipur's capital.
After coming back from Churachandpur, Shah Later in the evening, held an all-party meeting in Imphal.
The Home Minister also reviewed security situation with senior officials of Manipur Police, central police forces and the Indian Army. “Peace and prosperity of Manipur is our top priority,” he said and instructed officials to strictly deal with any activity disturbing the peace.
Manipur has been hit by ethnic conflict for nearly a month and witnessed a sudden spurt in clashes and firing between militants and security forces on Sunday, after a relative lull for over a fortnight.
The death toll from clashes has gone up to 80, officials said.
The Home Minister who flew into Imphal on Monday night was accompanied by the Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Director of the Intelligence Bureau Tapan Kumar Deka.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan in Pune said that challenges in Manipur have not disappeared, but expressed hope that things will settle down in some time, while noting the ongoing situation in the North Eastern state "is not related to insurgency".
"We are helping the state government with the problem," he added.
"I would like to say that the Army and Assam Rifles have done an excellent job there and may have saved a large number of lives. Hopefully this will settle and the government there will be able to do the job with the help of CAPF (Central Armed Police Forces) etc," the CDS said.