Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh on Sunday lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “far-sighted vision and special concern” for the state and its people.
“Shri N. Biren further appreciated Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and other central leaders for their far-sighted vision and special concern given towards Manipur and its people. He mentioned the honour and respect the central leaders have towards the people of Manipur,” a statement issued by the state government said.
At least 184 people have been killed in ethnic violence in Manipur that erupted on May 3 and still continues — a Kuki-Zo youth was killed in firing on Saturday. More than 67,000 people are displaced. On the ground, there is a complete separation of the population as the Meiteis have fled the hills and the Kuki-Zo people have fled the Valley, leaving their homes, work and education. Thousands remain in relief camps in the state and in Mizoram.
Prime Minister Modi has not visited Manipur even once in almost seven months despite repeated appeals to do so. He spoke in public about Manipur only after a video of two women being paraded naked and molested by a mob became viral on social media, taking 79 days to break his silence. During a no-confidence motion brought on the Manipur issue, Modi spent just over 5 minutes on the state in a two-hour speech. He did not meet MLAs from Manipur who had camped in Delhi for days in the hope of an audience with him.
But Biren Singh was not being ironical: he was extolling his party’s supreme leader for acts of munificence such as naming a mountain and a warship after Manipur and its capital city, and putting restrictions on visits by outsiders.
“Stating that the Prime Minister and other central leaders have done much for the people of Manipur, the chief minister expressed the need for the people to reciprocate for the honour and respect given to us by the former,” a state government statement on Sunday said.
Singh lauded the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Manipur (on January 1, 2020), the renaming of Mount Harriet in the Andamans as Mount Manipur in 2021, and the “lifting” of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, under Modi’s leadership.
However, the Manipur government extended the AFSPA for six more months from October 1 in the state except for 19 police station areas in the Meitei-dominated Imphal Valley. Kuki-Zo organisations want the AFSPA imposed across the valley and lifted from the tribal-majority hill districts.
Singh cited how the Centre had, “recognising the bravery of our forefathers”, named the navy’s third Visakhapatnam-class stealth-guided missile destroyer as INS Imphal in 2019. He said he would attend the unveiling of INS Imphal’s crest in Delhi on Tuesday.
The ILP, a travel document for visitors, is viewed as a shield against “outsiders” and illegal immigrants. The Centre brought Manipur under the ILP regime in December 2019 at the peak of the movement against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The Centre renamed Mount Harriet, the third-highest peak on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as Mount Manipur on October 17, 2021, as a tribute to Maharaja Kulchandra Singh and 22 other freedom fighters from the state who were imprisoned there during the 1891 Anglo-Manipur War.
Singh’s comments came as he released an edition of the Constitution of India in the Manipuri language (Meitei Mayek script) as part of Constitution Day celebrations in Imphal.