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Amit Shah Lands in Manipur to Campaign 11 Months After Violence Rocked State

The Union home minister said that the upcoming Lok Sabha polls-scheduled to be held for Manipur’s two seats on April 19 and April 26 will be between those trying to unite and divide the strife-torn state.
Union home minister Amit Shah and Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh during BJP poll campaign in Imphal on April 15, 2024. Photo: X (Twitter)/

New Delhi: Eleven months since his first visit when violence first broke out in Manipur, Union home minister Amit Shah visited the state on Monday, April 15, to campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and said that the polls are not between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but those who are trying to divide and unite the strife-torn state.

“This election is to elect Manipur’s friend Narendra Modi as the prime minister. This election is not between the Congress and the BJP, it is between those who are trying to divide Manipur and those who are trying to unite Manipur. The Congress party, wherever it goes, talks about dividing,” he said while addressing a rally in the state capital Imphal.

“It (Congress) divided the country, partitioned the country, now also they want to divide the country between north India and south India. Here also they tried to run an agenda of division. But I want to say here and go that no one has the courage to divide Manipur and we will not allow anyone to divide Manipur.

Shah’s visit comes almost a year after he visited the state from May 29 to June 2, 2023 – weeks after ethnic violence first broke out on May 3, 2023.

At least 216 people have been killed according to data put out by Manipur governor Anusuiya Uikey on February 28. A total of 50,000 internally displaced persons are living in relief camps across the northeastern state.

Referring to the ethnic violence in the state, which has left the state virtually divided between the hill and the valley areas, Shah said that in the coming days, the Modi government’s priority will be to build dialogue between all communities in Manipur.

“There has been ethnic violence in the state recently. I want to tell the people of both the hills and the valley that in the coming days Modi’s priority will be to keep Manipur united, talk to all communities and bring peace. Nothing happened in six years. Those who were responsible we will talk to them, and those who have suffered losses we will talk to them as well,” he said.

Ahead of Shah’s visit fresh violence broke out in the state with gunmen allegedly belonging to Meitei group Arambai Tenggol shooting down at least two Kuki-Zo defence volunteers in Phailengmola, abutting Kangpokpi and Imphal East districts.

While Modi is yet to visit Manipur since the violence began, Shah said that Modi has brought peace to India’s north east and visited the region 70 times.

“Modi has visited the northeast 70 times. Our ministers have visited 700 times. Kharge (Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge) says what is the point of going to smaller states. Kharge does not know that the small states are the spirit of India and without their vikas, Congress cannot see vikas,” he said, accusing the party of keeping Manipur under shutdowns.

“For 75 years, northeast which was tired of separatism saw peace which was brought by Narendra Modi. In the last ten years, he has taken 25 crore people out of poverty and given free food grains to 80 crore poor people, 4 crore houses to poor people, 10 crore poor people have got gas cylinders and 14 crore households have got piped water under Har Ghar Nal se Jal-given by our leader Modi. He says that the fortunes of the country will change when the northeast and Manipur’s fortunes change. And that is why 9,000 separatists have surrendered under the Modi government,” he said.

The state which has two Lok Sabha seats – Inner and Outer Manipur, will vote in two phases – on April 19 and April 26.

The state’s chief electoral officer Pradeep Kumar Jha has stated that 24,500 people will be voting from relief camps.

Last week, The Wire reported on how Modi’s claim in an interview with The Assam Tribune that “timely intervention” by his government and the BJP-ruled state government has led to marked improvement in the situation in Manipur, rings hollow.

Ever since May 3, 2023, when a “Tribal Solidarity March” in the hills led to clashes between the Kuki-Zo and Meitei communities, the state has been in a state of virtual curfew, with restricted mobility and the rise of armed vigilante groups within communities.

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