Manipur: Violence surges as do displacements, CM Biren Singh finally admits that Centre & State are not meeting public expectations

In an unusually candid, interview, post-election results (June 4) to the Indian Express on June 9, CM Manipur N Biren Singh, accepting responsibility for the 12 month long targeted conflict in the state, admitted that both the Centre and State had not met public expectations; this admission came is after ten days of fresh bouts of violence, more displacements, loss of property, curfew, and an attack on his own, the CM’s advance convoy
Image: Times of India

The abject failure of the Indian state, Centre and State, under the Modi government, in Manipur, the failure to bring peace to violence ravaged Manipur continue

With a beheaded body of a Meitei farmer being found on June 6, the state is once again under the grip of violence, 70 houses, police outposts and a forest office burned, at least 2000 displaced; all fingers point to negligence of the state and union governments. Most unexpected and candid was an admission, by CM Biren Singh in an interview to Indian Express on June 9 –five days after the Lok Sabha poll results that brought two Congress candidates to victory in the state — in which he said that the “Centre and state are not meeting public expectations.” Accepting responsibility for that defeat — Congress won both seats — he said, in an interview to The Indian Express, that it was time for him to work with “even more conviction.”

The past fortnight in Manipur

For the past week ten days, Manipur has once again been in the headlines, with more bouts of violence being reported from the state. Incidents of arson, displacement, violence and targeting of Kuki-Zo groups have once again started emerging from the state. The violence re-emerged after a Meitei farmer’s beheaded body was found on June 6 in Jiribam district of the state. While the police and authorities repeatedly emphasised that the miscreants behind the killing remained unknown, three abandoned villages belonging to Kuki community were burnt down. As situation started escalating, curfew was imposed. The state then, once again, saw houses being burnt down and people facing internal displacement. As per a report of The Indian Express, the number of those displaced from violence hit Jiri to the neighbouring Cachar district in Assam is around 2000 people, and the number is continuously growing. As per Kaushik Rai, an MLA from Assam’s Lakhipur constituency, while most of those who are being displaced people are from the Kukis and Hmars community, there are also Meiteis in the group.

Only a day before, on June 10, a group of suspected militants attacked the advance convoy of Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh. During the said attack, which took place in Kangpokpi district, one security personnel has also sustained injuries, as per the report of Economic Times. It is to be noted that the said convoy was on its way to Jiribam district following a recent round of violence that resulted in the death of one person. The attack took place near Kotlen village on the Imphal-Jiribam National Highway, with militants firing at the security forces.

It is essential to highlight here that Manipur has been seeing intermittent bouts of violence and sporadic firing since the month of April 2024. The ethnic clash in the state had started in May of 2023 and peace is yet to be established there. At least 225 people have died and nearly 50,000 have been displaced, living in relief camps, because of the ethnic clashes between the two groups, which started on May 3, 2023.

Even during the polling for the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, incidents of firing, intimidation, destruction of EVMs at some polling stations and allegations of booth capturing were reported from Manipur on the scheduled day of the first round of poll on April 19. Pursuant to this, re-polling at 11 polling stations in the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha constituency had been ordered by the Election Commission of India.

Details of the same can be accessed here.

On June 4, the results of the Lok Sabha elections depicted how the people of Manipur voted out the BJP and its ally, the Naga People’s Front, from the Inner and Outer Manipur constituencies respectively. Both the seats have been won comfortably by Congress candidates. In the inner Manipur constituency seat, Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, a professor of JNU, defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party’s T Basanta Kumar Singh, who is also the state education minister in the BJP-led Biren Singh government. Additionally, the Outer Manipur reserved seat had been won by Congress’s Alfred Kanngam Arthur, after he defeated his rival from the Naga People’s Front, a BJP ally. 

Details of the violence in Jiribam: June 6

On June 6, only two days after the declaration of election results, a 59-year-old man named S Saratkumar was found beheaded, alleged to have been killed by unknown militants. The incident occurred around 5 pm when Saratkumar was said to be returning from his son’s farm located at Leishabithol. According to media reports, the state police had stated that Saratkumar was allegedly detained by unknown miscreants near Khasia Punji on his way home. His family members immediately reported the incident to Jiribam district police, prompting a joint search operation in the area. During the search, Saratkumar’s beheaded body was found near Mulargoan, about 12 kilometers north of Jiribam police station. The motive behind the killing and the identity of the assailants remain unknown. Police have registered a case and launched an investigation.

While the police has not been able to ascertain the identity of the miscreants, soon after the incident the rumour that the miscreants behind this beheading were Kuki militants had gain fired. As per a report of the Telegraph, Soibam Romola, the deceased’s wife, had also stated that she and her son encountered suspicious unknown individuals, believed to be from the Kuki community, while returning from the farm ahead of her husband. Towards the evening on the same day, locals had gathered around the Jiribam police station and started demanding that they be allowed to arm themselves for their own protection. The Jiribam District Magistrate imposed a district-wide curfew immediately.

Trouble since the killing incident: Since June 6

As per multiple media reports, on June 6 itself, around 9pm, an irate mob set fire to abandoned houses belonging to the Kuki community in the nearby area. Three Kuki villages located near Jiribam district of Manipur were burnt. To prevent from further unwanted incidents, the administration of Jiribam and Tamenglong districts imposed prohibitory orders in the areas adjoining the two districts.

On the same evening, Kuki civil bodies in their press statement condemned the act and urged the authority concerned to book the culprits involved in the incident. Certain community civil bodies belonging also alleged that Meiteis had once again unleashed terror upon Jiribam during the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, shattering the fragile semblance of normalcy in the state since the past few weeks. As per a report of Hindustan Times, Indigenous Tribes Advocacy Committee (ITAC), Pherzawl and Jiribam district had claimed that the burning of houses in the Lamdai Khunou, Jiribam district by an angry mob is a direct response to the burning of Hmar-Kuki-Zomi tribal houses in and around Jiribam town by Meiteis. It stated that to prevent further escalation of the current violence and for the safety of the tribals, a total shutdown has been imposed in all areas under the jurisdiction of ITAC. In case of emergency, passes will be issued by ITAC and volunteers on duty.

Jiribam has a diverse ethnic composition comprising Meiteis, Muslims, Nagas, Kukis and non-Manipuris. It is also essential to note that the district of Jiribam had relatively stayed unaffected during the past one year.

On June 7, tensions remained high in Jiribam district after suspected militants torched two police outposts, a forest office and at least 70 houses, prompting the authorities to transfer the superintendent of police. The villages that were attacked by the militants were Lamtai Khunou, Dibong Khunou, Nunkhal and Begra villages.

Notably, police outposts of Jiri Mukh and Choto Bekra and the Goakhal forest beat office were set on fire. As per a statement of the officials, to gain a control over the situation, a contingent of more than 70 state police commandos was airlifted from Imphal to Jiribam to assist security personnel in their operations against militants. As per a report of the Hindustan Times, Jiribam SP A Ghanashyam Sharma’s transfer order was issued hours after police outposts were burnt. Reportedly, M Pradip Singh, who was serving as the additional director of the the Manipur Police Training College, has then charge as the senior superintendent of police of Jiribam district.

Violence resultant displacement:

Consequential displacements have also taken place, with about 2000 people have taken shelter in various parts of Lakhipur in Cachar district of Assam, entering the state by crossing the Jiri river over the last four days. Lakhipur MLA Kaushik Rai told PTI that affected people have started with internal displacement in search of safety. The local MLA also provided that people are taking shelter in villages at Jirighat and Lakhipur, though no government relief camp has been opened for them. Rai has also provided that the number of those being displaced is continuing to grow, as per the Indian Express. According to him, while most of these people are Kukis and Hmars — both part of the large Zo tribe — there are also Meiteis in the group.

“The people who have come from Manipur are being allowed to stay here safely. The local administration is taking all steps to ensure no spread of any violence here,” Lakhipur MLA Rai stated.

In addition to this, after the torching of the houses and property, more than 230 Meitei people, mostly women and children, were evacuated from peripheral areas of Jiribam, and moved to a newly set up relief camp at a multi-sports complex in the district. As per a report of The Hindu, survivors from the latest round of attacks on Meitei and Kuki-Zo villages provided that during the current violence, some of them had to flee their homes for the second time since the conflict began on May 3 last year. 

Leaders speak on the violence:

The newly election Congress MP, Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, issued his statement after the incident of violence emerged, urging the state government to protect the lives and properties of the people of Jiribam district as well as those living nearby.

I have talked to district officials of Jiribam. Those in the town are being provided security, while those in peripheral areas are not being provided security,” Akoijam had stated.

Akoijam also said the violence in Jiribam was created by those who wanted to remain in crisis in Manipur instead of bringing back peace, as per Hindustan Times.

He said, “People should not be shifted out as it is unconstitutional, instead, they should be provided with adequate securities for their protection as it could create division.”

In addition to this, Supriya Sule, who retained her Lok Sabha seat from Baramati, Maharashtra, condemned the violence taking place in Manipur, raising questions against the inaction of the Union as well as state government, both of which are led by the BJP party.

“We have been questioning the government over the Manipur issue for months. A lot of discussions took place in the Parliament over the Manipur situation. Manipur is an integral part of the country. The people, women, children there are Indians. In Manipur, the convoy of the Chief Minister was also attacked. It shows that somewhere something is going wrong. A word is not spoken about Manipur, though we sought a discussion on the issue. Leaders from the I.N.D.I.A. bloc travelled to the state, but we were stopped there. Manipur is an integral part of India, and why is it being meted out such treatment?” she said, as per PTI.

Meanwhile, Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) has alleged that the Jiribam incident occurred due to negligence of central government.

It is essential to note that on June 9, in reaction to losing both the Lok Sabha seats in Manipur, CM Singh had acknowledged that both the state and union government had been unable to meet the expectations of the people in Manipur. Notably, this reflection of the CM had come after more than one year of the state being under the grip of violence. With this, CM Singh had accepted responsibility for BJP’s defeat in the state in an interview to The Indian Express by stating that it was time for him to work with “even more conviction.” CM singh had also accepted that Manipuris in the valley and the hills are upset with the governments at the state and the Centre for not meeting “public expectations” on law and order.

Details of the attack on CM’s advance convoy: June 10

The advance convoy was on its way to violence-hit Jiribam district when it came under attack around 10.30 am near Kotlen village along a stretch of National Highway-53, a report of the Telegraph provided. Multiple gunshots were fired at the vehicles of the security forces, who retaliated. As per multiple media reports, one security personnel was injured in an attack on the CM’s advance convoy. The security personnel had sustained injuries to his shoulder and was immediately rushed to a hospital in Imphal for treatment. Notably, additional state and central forces, including Assam Rifles and CRPF, have launched a combing operation to apprehend the attackers. Arrests are yet to be made.

After the attack on the convoy, CM Singh had arrived in Imphal from New Delhi, wherein he had gone to attend the swearing-in ceremony of PM Narendra Modi, in the afternoon of June 10 and visited the injured security personnel, Moirangthem Ajesh at the hospital.

CM Singh also addressed the media and called the attack on his convoy to be a direct attack on the people of Manipur. As per a report of the Telegraph, Singh said “A befitting action will be taken soon. It is very unfortunate and highly condemnable. It’s an attack on the chief minister, which means a direct attack on the people of the state. The state government has to do something…we will take a decision.”

He further added, “Earlier, the state government did not retaliate much in the hope that an understanding could be achieved through talks. However, certain violent acts have been perpetuated on people as if a state government does not exist. This has hurt me deeply. There have been consistent insults to existing state machineries, and we have tolerated them for so long. The attack on an advance security team of the CM is an attack on the CM himself.”

Referencing to his interactions with the affected people of Jiribam, Singh said, “I spoke with them over the phone and told them I would come in two or three days and look into their requirements, and they were happy. I returned from Delhi as the situation in the state was important.”

However, with suspicions flying around as to the perpetrators of CM Singh’s murder attempt, Kuki-Zo locals in Uchathol Hmar Veng, Vengnuam Paite Veng, and Songkoveng villages have started reporting attacks on them. Around Vengnuam, a church was reported to be burnt down along with the homes of several civilians, as per Telegraph.


Manipur conflict state-manufactured in order facilitate corporate loot: FACAM

Manipur: a year on, thousands of lives disrupted but the conflict continues

Manipur: Blast leaves 2 CRPF men dead at outpost, polls marred by allegations

Bringing together fact-finding reports on Manipur, a commitment to conflict-ridden Manipur



Related Articles