Two months of riots since 3 May 2023 after the protest by the All Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur over the issue of grant of Scheduled Tribes (ST) status to the Meiteis turned violent, ethnic riots between the Meiteis and the Kukis in Manipur has turned into a full scale civil war, destabilising peace and security in the North East, stated the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) today.
“At least 120 persons have been killed so far while around 70,000 people have been displaced including 50,698 persons in relief camps in Manipur, over 12,000 persons who fled to Mizoram, 3,000 persons who fled to Assam, and over 1,000 people who fled to Meghalaya while thousands of the displaced have not sought shelter in relief camps. The Kukis who have fled to other States have been facing opposition to settlement from local groups such as in Meghalaya. With little improvement of the situation in Manipur as reflected from the killing of 10 persons on 2 July, there is little possibility for the return of the majority displaced persons to their original homes.”- stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of the RRAG.
“The destabilisation of the North East’s regional peace and security by the riots in Manipur is unprecedented in the history of the North East as the arming of over 3,000 civilians with alleged looting of over 4,000 weapons and five lakhs (5,00,000) ammunitions.” – further stated Mr Chakma.
There has not been any accountability for looting of the arms and arming of the civilians, failure to enforce the Suspension of Operations agreements with 23 Underground outfits since August 2008 and failure to bring the situation under control despite the imposition of Article 355 of the Constitution on 6 May 2023.
“The failure to bring the situation under control after the imposition of Article 355 of the Constitution on 6 May calls for the imposition of Article 356 of the Constitution to provide a government that is perceived as neutral. The current arrangement of Chief Minister Biren Singh supervising the security situation in the valley and the Ministry of Home Affairs supervising the situation in the hills only cements the division. The involvement of the insurgent groups of the Meiteis and the Kukis in the riots has the potential to spread the insurgency across the North Eastern region and destabilize the region.” – warned RRAG.
The RRAG recommended bringing the situation under control by imposing President’s rule, providing fresh impetus to the peace process headed by the Governor, and ensuring effective rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced persons to their original places of inhabitance with safety and security.