21 Oppn MPs in Manipur

IMPHAL, July 29: As tribals in Manipur reached out to a delegation from the opposition bloc INDIA seeking President’s rule, Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury said here today that the conflict in the Northeastern State was sullying India’s image and all parties needed to find a peaceful solution to end it.
Chowdhury was part of a delegation of 21 MPs from the opposition alliance who are on a two-day visit to Manipur to assess the ground situation and meet victims of the three-month ethnic riots in the State.
The BJP was quick to react to the visit by MPs of the opposition bloc with Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur alleging that it was a “mere show-off”.
The senior BJP leader alleged that when Manipur used to burn under previous governments, those visiting the northeastern state now did not utter a single word in Parliament then.
“When Manipur used to remain shut for months, they had not spoken a word,” he said.
Meanwhile, on the first day of their two-day whirlwind tour, the MPs visited several relief camps in Imphal, Moirang in Bishnupur district and Churachandpur and met victims of ethnic clashes.
“The Prime Minister and Union Home Minister are not saying anything and misguiding the country. They are telling that everything is fine in Manipur, but it is not. They are not allowing us to speak in Parliament,” Chowdhury told reporters on Saturday evening.
“We have come here to meet the people, we spoke to them and heard stories of the horrors. Now, we will raise those stories in Parliament,” he added.
Earlier in the day, he said, “The ethnic clashes have damaged the image of Manipur, the northeast region and India as a whole. We all have to try for a peaceful solution. We are here not to do any politics.”
The MPs reached Imphal by a commercial flight from Delhi.
After their arrival here, the delegation went to Churachandpur, where fresh violence has taken place, to meet victims from the Kuki community in the relief camps there.
“From Imphal, they took a chopper to Churachandpur due to security issues. As only one helicopter is available, the members of the delegation were divided into two teams, and the chopper made two trips to ferry them,” an official said.
One team, comprising Chowdhury, the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, and others, departed for Churachandpur first to visit the relief camp set up at the Boys Hostel of Churachandpur College.
Another team, comprising Congress’ deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi and others, went to visit a relief camp at Don Bosco School in Churachandpur, a source in the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) said.
Asked about the BJP’s allegations of politicisation of the Manipur issue, Gogoi said, “We would have been very happy to be a part of an all-party delegation led by the Prime Minister. But he is completely missing from the scene. He has not uttered a single word about Manipur in Parliament.”
Congress MP from Kerala, K Suresh, who is also part of the delegation, alleged that the Centre and the Manipur Government have “badly handled” the situation.
“It is a problem created by the BJP to secure its political future in the state,” he claimed.
After returning to Imphal, the team led by Chowdhury visited a relief camp at Moirang College in Bishnupur district by road to meet victims from the Meitei community, the source in the MPCC said.
The other team of opposition MPs went to the Ideal Girl’s College relief camp at Akampat in Imphal East district.
On Sunday morning, the delegation of opposition MPs will meet Governor Anusuiya Uikey at Raj Bhawan here to discuss the ongoing situation, the MPCC official said.
Besides Chowdhury and Gogoi, delegation includes TMC’s Sushmita Dev, JMM’s Mahua Maji, DMK’s Kanimozhi, Jayant Chaudhary of RLD, Manoj Kumar Jha of RJD, N K Premachandran of RSP, JD(U) chief Rajiv Ranjan (Lalan) Singh, Aneel Prasad Hegde (JD-U), CPI’s P Sandosh Kumar and CPI(M)’s A A Rahim among others.
“The people in this beautiful state are suffering for the last three months and nobody from the Government has come to listen to their grievances other than the opposition leaders,” RJD’s Manoj Kumar Jha told reporters.
DMK’s Kanimozhi said the MPs from the opposition bloc INDIA would hear the people’s voices from both communities.
“They are in distress and the Central Government has failed to resolve their problem,” the DMK leader said. Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray Faction) Arvind Sawant) MP Arvind Sawant accused the PM of being silent on the Manipur issue in Parliament.
“We want him to speak in Parliament, but not a single word has been said by him,” he alleged.
The mother of one of the two women paraded naked by a mob in Manipur on May 4 urged the MPs of the opposition coalition to help her see the bodies of her husband and son, who were also killed on that day.
When TMC MP Sushmita Dev and DMK MP Kanimozhi met the mother of one of the victims, she urged them to help her at least see the bodies of her son and husband.
She also told the two leaders the situation is such that Kukis and Meteis, the two warring communities, cannot live together anymore.
“Her daughter was raped, and her husband and son were killed by the mob in the presence of Manipur Police but till today, not a single police officer has been suspended,” Dev told reporters.
“They have got a huge shock. They are saying that there was a mob of more than 1,000 people, and they have made a specific demand, which I will raise with the Governor,” she said.
On a day the opposition MPs landed in Imphal, a massive rally was held to protest against the demand for a ‘separate administration’ for areas inhabited by the Kuki community.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators from across five valley districts participated in the rally, demanding the territorial integrity of the northeastern state where race riots began in early May.
The protest march, organised by Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), began at Thangmeiband in Imphal West district and culminated at Hapta Kangjeibunand in Imphal East, covering a distance of 5 km.
Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey said she was working to end the hatred and distrust that have strained the relationship between Meitei and Kuki communities.
Speaking to reporters after visiting a relief camp in Churachandpur district, Uikey said she has been meeting organisations representing the two communities, and seeking their cooperation to bring back peace to the state.
“I have come here for the second time, to share the grief of my brothers and sisters. It is nearly three months that these people are away from their homes. I came here to see that at least these people do not face any problems at the camp,” she said.
“The way hatred and distrust have grown between the two communities — Meiteis and Kukis, I am putting in efforts to end that. I have met organisations representing the two communities and representatives of different political parties, and sought their cooperation in establishing peace,” Uikey said. (PTI)