Opposition Parties Submit Joint Memorandum to PM Modi Criticizing Silence on Manipur Ethnic Strife

A group of ten opposition parties, including Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and Trinamool Congress, among others, have collectively submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing their criticism of his silence on the ongoing ethnic strife in Manipur. The memorandum lists a series of corrective measures that the central government should undertake to address the issue.

The opposition parties hold the politics of divide and rule in Manipur, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), responsible for the ethnic violence between the tribal and Meitei communities in the state since May 3. They specifically name Chief Minister N Biren Singh as the “architect” behind the situation. The violence has resulted in clashes between the two communities, attacks on lawmakers, a Union minister, and BJP-affiliated sites.

While Union Home Minister Amit Shah has visited Manipur and the central government has established an investigative panel and a committee to oversee peace-building efforts, the violence continues unabated. The opposition parties have criticized Modi for his silence on the matter, describing it as callous and insensitive.

The memorandum, shared on Twitter by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, emphasizes the urgent need to restore peace and harmony in Manipur. The parties also question the ambiguity surrounding the invocation of Article 355 of the Indian Constitution, which assigns the central government the duty to protect a state from external aggression and internal disturbance.

In addition to their criticisms, the opposition parties proposed several recommendations to the central government. These include addressing the grievances of all communities sensitively, disbanding armed groups and enforcing the suspension of operations by Kuki militants, reopening National Highway 2 which has been blocked since May 3, providing a realistic package of relief and rehabilitation, and maintaining strict vigilance on the border to prevent the entry of illegal migrants from Myanmar into Manipur.

While opposing the demand for a separate administration for Manipur’s tribal areas, as raised by a group of tribal MLAs including BJP lawmakers, the opposition parties emphasized the importance of taking immediate action to address the ongoing crisis and restore peace in the state.

The 10 parties said that “restoration of peace and harmony in the state is the most urgent requirement” and confidence-building among people is required.

The parties also slammed Modi’s silence on the issue and termed Chief Minister N Biren Singh as the “architect” of the violence, alleging that the “politics of divide and rule in Manipur” of the BJP is responsible for the current situation there. 

The parties also noted that the state and Union governments are also “ambiguous” about invoking Article 355 of the Constitution of India. The article assigns the Centre the duty to protect a state from “external aggression and internal disturbance”. It is an extremely rare action and is invoked in case of grave breakdown of law and order and is often a precursor to the imposition of the president’s rule in a state.

The parties also said, “Stoic silence of Hon’ble Prime Minister over the ethnic violence which has claimed many lives and created havoc for thousands of citizens in Manipur sends a clear message of indifference to the people of Manipur.”

However, the parties stated that they are opposed to the demand of a “separate administration” of Manipur’s tribal areas that was raised by a group of tribal MLAs, including lawmakers from the BJP.

What have the parties proposed?

The 10 parties have listed a set of recommendations to the Centre: 

1. The grievances of all communities must be heard and addressed sensitively.

2. All armed groups should be disbanded and there should be strict adherance of suspension of operations by Kuki militants. 

In the ongoing violence, Kuki tribal militants have repeatedly carried out attacks, according to reports.

3. The parties said that National Highway 2 linking Imphal to Dimapur —described as “lifeline of Manipur”— has been blocked by Kuki organisations since May 3 and the Centre should ensure that it’s opened.

4. The sum of Rs 101.75 crore announced by the Centre is not adequate and a “realistic” package of relief, rehabilitation, resettlement, and livelihood should be announced. 

5. Strict vigil should be maintained on the border to prevent entry of illegal migrants from Myanmar into Manipur.

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