With ethnic clashes continuing in Manipur, hundreds of Kuki-Zomi women in Delhi on Wednesday held a demonstration in front of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s residence, seeking his urgent intervention to end the violence.
The women, under the aegis of Kuki Women’s Forum (KWF), Delhi-NCR, held banners seeking justice for the alleged State-backed violence against Kuki-Zomi people in Manipur.
They said the Kuki-Zomi people in Manipur had trusted Mr. Shah’s word on the 15-day ceasefire and laid down their licensed weapons following his appeal for peace. The women’s group alleged that the State forces along with Arambai Tenggol and Meetei Leepun had started attacking Kuki villages on the pretext of combing operations, and added that they were in some cases allegedly aided by Meitei officers of the Army and the CAPFs.
‘Attack has continued’
The KWF, in a memorandum to the Home Minister, said that despite his call for peace, Meitei militants “with full backing of the Manipur armed police” had attacked and burned Kuki-Zomi villages “daily”.
The KWF listed a total of 56 villages that were allegedly raided and burned in this manner on May 29, May 30, May 31, June 2, June 4, June 5 and June 6. Their statement said approximately 20 churches were destroyed in these attacks, which also led to the deaths of six people and caused serious injuries to 10.
The women’s forum added that the State armed forces of Manipur (police, commandos, Manipur Rifles, and IRB) along with Arambai Tenggol and Meetei Leepun were behind these attacks and that they were in some cases allegedly assisted by Meitei officers posted with the Indian Army and the CAPFs.
“They have carried out their insidious and barbaric onslaught on the Kuki-villages on daily basis in the name of combing operation against non-existent Kuki terrorists/militants. There were no Kuki militants on site. On the contrary, the Kuki volunteers have been guarding and protecting our villages from the onslaught of the Meitei terrorists using licensed guns and traditional weapons,” the KWF statement said.
After about half-an-hour of demonstration outside Mr. Shah’s residence on Krishna Menon Marg, a high-security zone, four women representatives of the forum were invited in where they submitted the memorandum to the Home Minister’s personal secretary. The rest of the protesters were escorted by the police in two buses to Jantar Mantar, where the demonstration went on till 2 p.m.
Convener of the forum, Dr. Mary Grace Zou said, “The police were very cooperative. They took us in and redirected the protest to Jantar Mantar.”
A senior police officer said that Section 144 of the CrPC was in place in the area, as it is in the entire district throughout the year. “We asked protesters to move to Jantar Mantar and they complied,” the officer said.
Demand for buffer zone
In the memorandum, the protesters demanded the creation of an immediate buffer zone by the Indian Army between all Kuki and Meitei settlements in Manipur, restricting State police and law enforcement to the valley areas only, apprehending absconding members of Arambai Tenggol and Meetei Leepun, and removing all Meitei officers posted with CAPFs and the Indian Army.
The Congress on Wednesday asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “still silent” on the violence in Manipur and why he doesn’t visit the state and make an appeal for reconciliation.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh also asked why the Prime Minister does not encourage an all-party delegation to visit Manipur.
“There appears to be no letting up in the enormous disaster that has engulfed Manipur for the past seven weeks. The Home Minister visited belatedly after a month and the nation must be thankful for small mercies,” Mr. Ramesh said on Twitter.
“But why is the Prime Minister still silent? Why doesn’t he visit the State and make an appeal for reconciliation between communities? Why can’t he at least encourage an all-party delegation to go to Manipur?” he asked.