Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh Saturday said that while it is “not possible to confirm or deny international hand” in the ongoing ethnic clashes between the Meitei and Kuki communities in the state, it “seems pre-planned”.
In an interview with news agency ANI, Singh also said that he was considering resigning from his post earlier this week due to fears that the public had lost confidence in him, but the show of support made him change his mind.
Manipur has been witnessing ethnic clashes between the Meitei and Kuki communities since May 3, over the possible inclusion of the former into the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list.
Here’s what CM Biren Singh said:
‘Indian security force can’t possibly cover everything in long, porous India-Myanmar border’
Manipur CM N Biren Singh, when asked about a possible international hand in the ongoing ethnic clashes in the state, said, “Manipur is neighbouring with Myanmar, and China is also nearby. We have a 398-km long porous, unguarded border. We have Indian security forces guarding us, but they can’t possibly cover everything. Anyone can imagine what all can happen there… what’s happening now, we can’t deny or confirm international hand in it.”
He added, “It seems pre-planned but the reason is not clear.”
‘As the CM, I promise that I won’t allow Manipur to break up’
Discussing the demand for a separate administrative authority for the Kuki tribe in Manipur, Singh said, “We are one. Manipur is a small state but we have 34 tribes. All of these 34 tribes have to live together… As the CM, I promise that I won’t allow Manipur to break up and neither will there be a separate administrative authority in the state. I am prepared to make sacrifices to keep everyone together.”
‘Have to ensure there is no demographic imbalance’
While talking about harmony in Manipur, N Biren Singh also said, “We just have to be careful that not many people from outside come and settle here. We have to ensure that there is no demographic imbalance.”
‘Talked to my Kuki brothers and sisters, said let’s forgive and forget’
Singh assured that his government is taking steps to restore peace in the state. “A few hours ago, I spoke with our Kuki brothers and sisters over the telephone that let’s forgive and forget; reconcile and live together like we always have… Our priority is to restore peace and normalcy in Manipur,” he said.
‘My government has still not recommended if Meiteis should be included in ST list or not’
When asked about the reasons behind the violence engulfing the state since May 3 this year, Singh said that he was also “confused”, and that only the people who had organised the rally which led to clashes can answer this question.
“The High Court had asked our government to respond within four weeks on the question of whether or not the Meitei community should be included in the Scheduled Tribes list. I had said a consensus is important… before we could take any decision, all this happened,” he said.
‘If you don’t have public support, there’s no point in staying’
Singh also talked about why he was about to resign from the CM post last week, and what made him give up his plans.
“After people started burning effigies of the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, and after the BJP office in Imphal was attacked, I started doubting if people still have confidence in our government. Public ka support nahi hai too rehne ka kya fayda (‘If you don’t have public support, there’s no point in staying’), that’s my opinion… Yesterday, I saw the confidence and the trust of the people, and that’s why I will continue working for Manipur and for the party,” he said.
‘We are eating poison fruits, whose seeds were sowed by Congress’
Lashing out at the Congress party, which has been demanding his resignation, Singh said, “We are eating the poison fruits, seeds of which were sowed by them.”
“Where did these problems come from? These are deep-rooted. They are not today’s problems. Those who are levelling allegations, like Congress: we are eating the poison fruits, seeds of which were sowed by them. The entire world knows whose mistake was it. The ethnic clash between Kuki and Meitei continued for two-three years, there were losses and deaths. That is why, the Kuki militants rose at that time, they were given a free run from 2005-2018, for 13 years. That is why this is happening,” Singh alleged.
‘Rahul Gandhi came to Manipur with political agenda’
Singh also slammed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who had visited Manipur recently.
“We can’t stop anyone. But it has been 40 days. Why did he not come earlier? He is a Congress leader but in what capacity was he making the visit? I don’t think the timing was right. He seemed to have come with a political agenda. He came and then there was an incident in the market and BJP office was attacked. Did he come for the situation in the state or for political mileage? I don’t support the manner in which he came,” he said.
‘Home Minister monitoring situation 24×7’
While talking about the efforts to restore peace in Manipur, Singh said, “The Home Minister (Amit Shah) of a country as large as India is staying in Manipur for days, monitoring the situation 24×7.”
‘Government trying to screen people coming from outside in wake of Myanmar turmoil’
Emphasising that his government’s priority was to ensure harmony and normalcy in Manipur, Singh said, “The government has only tried to screen the people coming from outside in the wake of the Myanmar turmoil and send them back once the situation improves.”