Manipur: Shutdown in hills as Kukis condemn arrest; Meiteis refute claims

| Updated: 02 October, 2023 5:26 pm IST

GUWAHATI: A total shutdown has been observed in Churachandpur and other hill areas of Manipur on Monday, October 2, which coincides with Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary following arrests of five people in a “transnational conspiracy” case behind ethnic riots.

Officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) are investigating a suspected well-planned conspiracy between Manipur’s armed groups and those from across the border in Myanmar.

The agencies have recently arrested five persons in this case, sparking opposition, with Kuki groups alleging that the case is politically motivated.

The Indigenous Tribal Leader’s Forum (ITLF), a conglomerate of recognized tribes in the Lamka town of Outer Manipur, has called for an indefinite shutdown in the hill areas until the five people are released. The ITLF has also condemned the nature of the arrests, alleging that they were made without due process.

The CBI has registered two cases related to the violence that erupted in Manipur in May 2023. The NIA, on the other hand, is investigating a case related to a transnational conspiracy by Myanmar and Bangladesh-based terror outfits to wage war against the Government of India by exploiting the current ethnic unrest in Manipur.

Manipur CM N Biren Singh has said that the recent NIA arrests show that the crisis in Manipur is not simply an ethnic conflict, but also a conspiracy to wage war against the Indian Union. Singh has also alleged that the Kuki militants involved in the conspiracy are being supported by groups from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The valley-based civil society Coordinating Committee on Manipur (COCOMI) has raised concerns about illegal immigration and opium cultivation in the state. COCOMI has also welcomed the NIA’s investigation into the transnational conspiracy, saying that it will help to uncover the truth behind the ongoing unrest in Manipur.

“The Kuki bodies and their condemnation against Central agencies is wrong. We Meiteis are only seeking the truth. When the incident occurred wherein the girls were paraded naked, all of us condemned the incident. Why are they not condemning the murder of the two students now? Whatever the NIA is stating is the truth,” COCOMI media coordinator Somorendro Thokchom told The New Indian.

The Manipur unrest has been ongoing ever since May 3, 2023, when ethnic violence erupted in India’s north-eastern state. The conflict has revolved around the Meitei people, a majority that lives in the Imphal Valley, and the Kuki tribal community from the surrounding hills.

The ongoing unrest in Manipur is a complex issue with deep-rooted historical and political causes. It is important to note that the views expressed in this article are just a few of the many perspectives on the conflict.

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