Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has reacted sharply to his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga participating in a rally organised in capital Aizawl to express solidarity with the Kuki minority community in ethnic violence-torn Manipur. In an exclusive interview to News18, Biren Singh said he had conveyed his disappointment at Zoramthanga’s gesture to a Mizoram minister.
“It is very unfortunate. The rally organised by the people is democracy. But the involvement of the CM in that particular rally, that’s unfortunate. I respect him (Zoramthanga) as a senior, but he has gone beyond ethics. A CM should not interfere in other state’s affairs. That goes for me too. I cannot interfere in or comment on something happening in Assam or Mirozram without the chief ministers’ consent. That is the protocol,” Biren Singh told News18.
Zoramthanga, deputy chief minister Tawnluia, ministers, and MLAs of Mizoram, cutting across party lines, took part in the massive protest rally in Aizawl on Tuesday. Thousands of common people joined them in the peaceful protest with placards and posters, decrying the violence in the neighbouring state.
The protesters also adopted resolutions, urging the Centre to compensate the victims of the ethnic clash and ensure stringent punishment to those involved in parading the two women naked.
Mizos of Mizoram share ethnic ties with Kukis of Manipur, Kuki-Chins of Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh and Chins of Myanmar. They are collectively identified as Zos.
Biren Singh told News18 that he had conveyed his message to a minister in Zoramthanga’s cabinet.
Asked about the serious issue of civilians building bunkers and erecting check-posts, Singh said: “The central and state forces have jointly destroyed many bunkers. We will not allow any kind of bunkers in hills or in the Valley.”
On the current situation in the state, the CM said Manipur is moving towards peace and normalcy.
“Peace is almost returning. Last 10-20 days, no untoward incident has taken place… Some groups are always trying to keep Manipur on the boil. But we the people, we the government, are trying to restore normalcy. But almost 80-90% normalcy has returned. And I am trying my best with the blessings of PM Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and other central leaders to have reconciliation talks with communities.”
A viral video from May 4 of two women being paraded naked by a mob in Manipur renewed the national attention on Manipur, where violence broke out nearly three months ago, killing over 160 people since then, and injuring hundreds.
The violence erupted on May 3 after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Meiteis account for about 53% of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley, while tribals, which include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40% and reside mainly in the hill districts.