Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday announced steps to restore normality in Manipur, including a judicial commission to probe the strife and a unified command structure for better coordination among the security agencies.
Addressing journalists in Imphal on the last day of his four-day visit, Shah said the judicial commission would be headed by a retired chief justice of a high court. It will ascertain the causes of the violence that began on May 3 and fix responsibility.
Shah has visited four violence-hit areas, interacted with over 20 civil society organisations from both the warring communities (Meiteis and Kukis), prominent citizens, elected representatives and political parties. He has attended a state cabinet meeting and reviewed the situation with security officials.
Shah said a unified command would be in place from Thursday for better ground coordination among the security forces.
The security forces include the army, central paramilitary forces and state police. The unified command will be headed by Kuldiep Singh, security adviser to chief minister N. Biren Singh.
Soon after Shah’s news conference, a government order appointing Rajiv Singh, a 1993-batch IPS officer from the Tripura cadre, as the new DGP became public. Incumbent state police chief P. Doungel has been shifted as officer on special duty to the state home department, which is under the chief minister.
Shah said the CBI would probe six cases relating to the violence, including one that would examine the conspiracy angle. He warned the militant groups that are part of a tripartite Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement against violating the pact.
While Meitei organisations have accused Kuki rebel groups that are part of the SoO of fuelling the unrest, Kuki organisations have accused the Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun, two Meitei organisations, of targeting Kukis in the valley. The Arambai Tenggol was dissolved last week after its name was linked to the violence, sources said.
Shah appealed to those who possess illegal weapons, including any snatched from the police, to surrender them at police stations. He warned of strict action against anyone found to possess illegal weapons during the combing operations to be conducted from Friday. Over 1,400 arms have been snatched from the police.
The Union home minister claimed that Manipur had witnessed peace and development in various sectors in the past six years under the current BJP-led government. “However, due to a court judgment, there were some misunderstandings among people of different communities,” he said.
A Manipur High Court order of March 27 is widely seen as the immediate trigger for the unrest although tensions had been simmering since February over a survey of forestland in Kuki areas and consequent evictions.
The high court had asked the state government to send a recommendation to the Centre to consider the grant of Scheduled Tribe status to the Meitei community. A solidarity rally held by tribal groups in the 10 hill districts opposing the Meitei demand for ST status had set off the violence.
Some of the announcements made by Shah:
■ A peace committee has been formed under the governor with representatives from all sections of society, including sportspersons and industrialists.
■ A sum of Rs 10 lakh will be given to the next of kin of those killed in the clashes.
■ The Centre has sent 30,000 tonnes of rice to Manipur in addition to the prescribed quota and arranged for the supply of gas cylinders, petrol and vegetables.
■ Eight central medical teams will provide health facilities in the Moreh, Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts.
■ A temporary platform will be set up at Khongsang railway station to ensure the supply of essentials. Temporary helicopter services from Churachandpur, Moreh and Kangpokpi will be offered at the cost of Rs 2,000 per person.
■ Biometric and eye impressions of people coming from neighbouring countries are being taken as a precaution against foreigners inciting violence.
■ The Centre has completed 10km of fencing along the Myanmar-Manipur border and floated tenders for another 80km of border fencing. A survey is under way towards fencing the rest of the 1,600km border.
With Shah at the news conference were chief minister Singh, Union minister of state for home Nityanand Rai and Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla.
More than 80 people have been killed and over 45,000 affected by the violence, which has left 1,700 houses and other buildings vandalised or destroyed.