Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday lambasted the Narendra Modi government over atrocities committed on tribal communities in strife-hit Manipur over the past four months before expressing her concerns over the condition in relief camps, housing thousands of people whose homes were burnt in the worst-ever ethnic clashes in the Northeast.
"The people of Manipur are residents of our own country. Why are you torturing them?" asked the chief minister while urging people from all walks of life to come forward and ensure peace in Manipur.
She was speaking at a government programme in Jhargram Stadium on the occasion of the World Tribal Day or International Day for World's Indigenous People. In her address, she described how the state and the central governments failed in their duties of protecting the Kuki-Zo tribe in Manipur, who have been facing attack for the past four months.
"Tribal people are facing unprecedented atrocities in Manipur. Ambulances carrying mothers, children and even with newborns were burnt alive there. There is no health service for the pregnant tribal women in the camps... People at these relief camps, including newborns, are not getting enough food and drinking water," she said.
On June 4, a 2,000-strong Meitei mob allegedly torched an ambulance in front of police on Imphal’s outskirts, burning alive a seven-year-old boy, his mother and a relative who were being taken to hospital with bullet injuries.
Around 165 people have been killed so far in Manipur since May 3 when clashes broke out between the two communities over the majority Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe status, which the Kuki-Zo tribes have been opposing. The situation in Manipur — on the boil for over four months — is yet to be normalised and the Opposition parties of the INDIA alliance are highlighting the failure of the BJP-led governments at the state and the centre in handling the Manipur situation to create a narrative against the Narendra Modi led government at the centre.
"If you can't help those people in crisis, allow us to reach them with relief and services. We will provide them with health service, food, water, clothes and all the other things that they need... Please stop torturing those people, don't be atrocious," said Mamata. She urged all leaders of the country, who believe in the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi, to shed some tears for Manipur.
Besides talking about the mayhem in Manipur, Mamata also accused the BJP of trying to create a Manipur-like riot in Jungle Mahal between Adivasis and Kurmis over the latter's demand for Scheduled Tribe status
"I treat people belonging to all castes and creeds, including tribal and kurmis, equally. My government did all possible developments for the people of both the communities. The BJP wants to engineer riots between the Kurmis and the tribal people (of Jungle Mahal). I urge the people of both communities to refrain from any fights among themselves and live in peace and harmony," said Mamata.
Mamata had on Tuesday held two separate meetings with leaders of the tribal and the Kurmi communities, which are at loggerheads over the Scheduled Tribe tag. In the two meetings, she had taken a commitment from the communities that they would not involve in any form of violence.
"I met my tribal and kurmi brothers yesterday. I saw that Kurmi people put up road or rail blockades to press for their demand... I have told them (kurmis) that I have sent their proposal to the Centre and now I don't have anything to do with that. You (tribal and kurmis) can contact me or my officials or representatives like Samirul (Rajya Sabha member Samirul Islam) for any developmental projects, but live in peace and harmony" said Mamata.