Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s three-day visit to Manipur — his first since the violence began on May 3 — began on May 29.
A senior government official said the Home Minister, whose flight landed in Imphal late in the evening, would hold several rounds of security meetings to assess the situation and plan steps to restore normalcy.
On his arrival, Mr. Shah met Chief Minister N Biren Singh and other ministers. He was accompanied by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Director, Intelligence Bureau Tapan Kumar Deka. Mr. Shah later held a meeting with Governor Anusuiya Uikey in Imphal.
During his stay, Mr. Shah was likely to visit Imphal first and travel to Churachandpur, Kangkokpi and Moreh — some of the areas most affected in the ongoing violence. He would also meet civil society organisations representing the Meitei, Kuki-Zo and the Nagas.
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The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), a Meitei outfit, said in a statement that Mr. Shah’s visit was a positive step towards restoring peace in the State. “We are speaking for everyone, including the Kukis. We are for the unity of Manipur but we are against the Kuki militants. We are likely to meet the Home Minister on Tuesday,” Jeetendra Nimgonba, coordinator, COCOMI, said.
The COCOMI (and other Imphal-based organisations) stressed the need to take action against poppy growers and drug dealers in the hills surrounding the Imphal Valley. “The people of Manipur will not be able to come to any solution unless the State and Central governments take immediate actions to uproot these narco-terrorist aggressors,” the COCOMI said.
The United People’s Front (UPF) and Kuki National Organisation (KNO), Kuki militant organisations that are in a suspension of operations pact with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Manipur government, said the Home Minister’s visit has given a sense of security among the Kuki-Zo tribe. “We look forward to his actions and directions to end this ongoing ethnic clash between the two communities... We appeal to the Kuki-Zo population to maintain peace and wait for the outcome of his peace mission to the State,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, one of the Kuki representatives made it clear that they would not travel to Imphal to meet the Minister.
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Kuldiep Singh, Security Advisor, Manipur government, told The Hindu that Internet services would remain to be suspended in the State as violence continued to be reported from several areas. “In some areas, abandoned houses are being burnt. In some places, houses that have already been burnt are being set on fire.” However, officials said there were no reports of violence on Monday, unlike 24 hours ago.
Meanwhile, ahead of Mr. Shah’s visit, the Armed Forces on Monday arrested 25 people possessing guns in the State. A Defence statement said Army personnel caught 22 people after receiving information about armed miscreants trying to target the security forces and torch houses in the hilly Yaingangpokpi area of Imphal East district.
Five 12-bore double-barrel rifles, three single-barrel rifles, a country-made weapon, a muzzle-loaded weapon, and war-like stores were recovered from them. In a separate operation, the Armed Forces apprehended three miscreants in Imphal’s New Checkon area and recovered an INSAS rifle, 60 cartridges, a Chinese hand grenade, and a detonator. All the 25 were handed over to the police and arrested.
The Indian Army said in a tweet that acting on specific intelligence, it has mobilised in Sanasabi, Gwaltabi and Shabunkhol Khunao villages in hill regions of Imphal. Mr. Singh said that arms and ammunition were looted from police armouries on Sunday and efforts were on to recover them.
No violence reported
Officials, however, said there were no reports of violence on Monday unlike 24 hours ago.
Several Imphal-based organisations have, meanwhile, said that peace may not return to State unless the government roots out poppy growers and drug dealers in the hills surrounding the Imphal Valley.
“The people of Manipur will not be able to come to any solution unless the State and Central governments take immediate actions to uproot these narco-terrorist aggressors,” the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity, an Imphal-based organisation said.