Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday attributed the unrest in Manipur to the ruling BJP’s “politics of hatred”, citing the violence as “an extreme example of what happens when you make people fight with each other”.
The Congress leader made the observation while participating in a conclave organised by the Pratidin Media Network, a leading media house from Assam, in New Delhi.
Asked about his visit to Manipur in June, Rahul said what he saw was unprecedented.
Clashes between the Meitei and Kuki communities that erupted on May 3 have so far left at least 176 dead and over 67,000 displaced.
Rahul had visited Manipur on June 29-30. He had then said he had come to “listen and understand” what had happened and try to “bring back peace” in Manipur.
On Sunday, Rahul said: “So what has happened is that the politics of hatred that the BJP has been playing with has basically destroyed the state of Manipur.... Actually, the idea of Manipur does not exist anymore. It has to be brought back to life and the culprit is the politics of the BJP. That is an extreme example of what happens when you make people fight with each other.”
The BJP has been heading a coalition government in Manipur since 2017.
Rahul shared how his visit was welcomed by both the warring communities but added that the animosity between the two ran deep.
“When we arrived there and were going to visit one community, say we were going to visit the Kuki or the Meitei community, we were told before we entered, ‘Listen we are happy for you to come but if, in your security, there is a people from the other community, we will shoot him.”
“So, before we entered the area, we had to say (to the security) we are going to a Kuki area, Meiteis please leave,” Rahul said, adding that the same was told to the Kuki security personnel in his convoy when they entered a Meitei area.
“Now I have never seen this where the government has absolutely no control, where the Government of India cannot send its own paramilitary force personnel into an area.... We spoke to some of the administration people and they said ‘we have no control. We simply cannot control it’. I have never seen this in my whole life in India. I mean you can expect this... in Rwanda, maybe where there is a civil war. You don’t expect this in India. This is the danger of what the BJP is doing, the danger is that it will spread," Rahul said.
He had visited five relief camps — two each in Churachandpur and Bishnupur and one in Imphal city. While Churachandpur is a Kuki-majority district, Bishnupur and Imphal are dominated by the Meiteis.
The Centre has deployed about 40,000 central forces, including the army, but the situation remains volatile.
The Manipur BJP said Rahul's was a “political tour” and he was now trying to “defame” the party without understanding the reasons behind the conflict. “He (Rahul) did politics by travelling to Churchandpur by road when he was advised by the administration to take a chopper due to security issues,” BJP spokesperson Elangbam Johnson told The Telegraph.
Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh said in Imphal on Sunday that his government was “taking all necessary measures for the welfare of the people affected by the recent violence” while also listening to their grievances.
He distributed a one-time financial assistance of Rs 5,000 each to beneficiaries under the Special Scheme for Education of Children of Labour Card Holders staying in relief camps.