Manipur violence: Rajiv Singh IPS appointed new DGP as 'special case in public interest'

Tribal people of Manipur stage a protest against the ongoing tension in the state, at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi, Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Photo: PTI

Imphal: Amid rising tensions between the Meitei and Kuki communities in the northeastern state of Manipur, senior IPS officer Rajiv Singh was on Thursday appointed the new DGP (Director General of Police) of the state for a period of three years "as a special case in public interest", an official order said.

Singh, a 1993 batch IPS officer serving as the inspector general of operations at the CRPF headquarters in Delhi, replaces P Doungel, a 1987 batch IPS officer from Manipur, for whom a post of Officer on Special Duty (Home) has been created. He is due for retirement at the end of the month.

According to an official order, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet cleared the inter-cadre deputation of Singh from Tripura cadre to Manipur cadre "for a period of three years from the date of joining, in relaxation of the policy as a special case in public interest".

Personnel and Administrative Reforms Department Special Secretary N Geoffrey said, in the order, that Singh will be the new DGP of Manipur and Head of the Police Force immediately upon joining the state government.

Soon after the violence broke out, the central government appointed former chief of the CRPF Kuldiep Singh as a security adviser to the Manipur government.

3 cops injured in suspected Kuki attack

Three police personnel were injured in a gunfight with suspected Kuki militants in Manipur's Bishnupur district, officials said on Thursday.

The gunfight took place at Tangjeng under the Kumbi police station on Wednesday night, they said.

The injured police personnel have been admitted to an Imphal hospital, they added.

"Heavy exchange of fire has also been reported from Chanung in Imphal East district. We have not got any casualty report from there yet," said a senior official.

The army and police forces are conducting state-wide search operations for hidden arms caches.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a meeting with delegations of civil society organisations, in Kangpokpi, Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Photo: PTI

Surveillance by drones and deployment of security forces also continues, said officials.

Judicial probe, peace committee to resolve Manipur violence: Amit Shah

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday said a judicial probe headed by a retired high court chief justice to inquire into clashes in Manipur, will soon be announced.

He also announced at a press conference held here on Thursday that a peace committee under the Governor of Manipur, Anusuiya Uikey, which will have representatives of all political parties, besides representatives from both Kuki and Meitei communities and social organisations will be set up.

"Dialogue is the only solution to the ongoing crisis in Manipur," Shah said.

"We will soon announce a judicial probe headed by a retired high court chief justice and set up a peace committee," he said.

The Home Minister also announced that a CBI probe would be instituted to probe five criminal conspiracies and one general conspiracy behind the violence in Manipur.

He, however, also said, "Violence was a temporary phase, misunderstandings will go away ... the situation will soon be normal."

Meiteis, Kukis urge Centre to control situation

Representatives of the Meitei and Kuki communities on Wednesday sought restoration of peace in the state even as differences remained stark.

Tribal people of Manipur stage a protest against the ongoing tension in the state, at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi, Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Photo: PTI

Members from the Kuki-Hmar-Zomi-Mizo tribes held a protest at the Jantar Mantar here demanding that Chief Minister Biren Singh be sacked and President's rule implemented in the state.

A press conference was held by representatives of the Meitei community who demanded the Centre's intervention in restoring peace in the state.

The Kuki community members said more than 115 tribal villages, 4000 houses and 222 churches have been desecrated and burnt. They claimed Kuki houses were burnt even when Home Minister Amit Shah was in the state on May 29-30.

Timothy Chongthu, a representative of the Kuki Students Organisation Delhi, said the government should look at the long-standing demand of the tribal communities to have separate administration.

"President's rule should be implemented in Manipur if the state government is unable to control the situation," he said.

A Meitei representative, however, said the violence in Imphal valley, which is dominated by the group, was a "reaction".

"People are angry and helpless," said Bobby Meetei, a representative of People's Alliance for Peace and Progress Manipur.

"The Kukis want to push the Meiteis to the Imphal valley so they can demand a separate state," he claimed.

Kimi Soni, a Meitei community member who is from the worst affected Churachandpur district, said she was heartbroken.

"The police did not do anything for us. We were told we had to manage on our own for two nights," she claimed.

Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan's remark that the turmoil was due to "ethnic clashes" and not an anti-insurgency issue also drew sharp reactions from both communities.

While the Kuki representatives said it backed their claim that they are not "illegal immigrants" as alleged, the Meitei community members felt the Army is being partisan.

"The CDS said it is ethnic clashes and not an insurgency, so why is the firing not stopping?" questioned Kimi.

She, however, clarified that she was not claiming that the Army is taking any sides.

"We are not saying they are siding with anyone, but we do not know what is happening," she said.

Meitei representatives have maintained that the clashes were linked to the state government's recent action against poppy plantations in the forest area and that a number of Kukis are "illegal immigrants" from Myanmar.

They also demanded the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state to weed out "illegal immigrants", and the cancellation of the Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement signed with various Kuki militant groups.

"NRC exercise should be carried out in Manipur, that would make things clear. Getting an Aadhaar card is very easy," said Ina Khunbi, a Meitei community member.

Clashes broke out in Manipur after a 'Tribal Solidarity March' in all its 10 districts on May 3 to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

The violence was preceded by tension over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, which had led to a series of smaller agitations.

After a relative lull for over a fortnight, the state witnessed a sudden spurt in clashes and gunfights between militants and security forces on Sunday.

So far, over 80 people have been killed in the violence, according to officials.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mainly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals -- Nagas and Kukis -- constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.

(With PTI inputs)

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