Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday announced that a committee led by a retired High Court judge will investigate the violence in Manipur. The northeastern state has witnessed ethnic clashes between Meiteis and Kukis since May 3 that have left at least 81 persons dead, over 200 injured and thousands displaced.

“Several agencies are working in Manipur to investigate violent incidents,” the home minister said during a press conference. “A high-level CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] probe is being done into six incidents of violence that hint at a conspiracy. We will make sure that the investigation is fair.”

The home minister also announced that a peace committee headed by Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey will be formed. Representatives from all political parties and the civil society will be part of the committee, Shah said.

The home minister also warned that strict action will be taken against anyone violating the Suspension of Operations agreement with Kuki militants. “Those carrying weapons must surrender before the police,” he announced. “Combing operations will start tomorrow and if weapons are found with anyone, strict actions will be taken.”

Since May 3, at least 1,420 weapons and ammunition have been looted from police camps. Out of these, around 500 have been recovered so far, according to The Hindu.

Shah, who is on a three-day visit to Manipur, made the announcement a day after he met Kuki civil society groups and tribal leaders in Churachandpur and Meitei groups in Imphal. He also visited a relief camp housing members of the Kuki community and Meitei communities in Kangpokpi and Imphal.

Many of those taking shelter in the relief camps accused the state government of being a mute spectator even as violence spread across Manipur. The home minister assured them of justice and all possible help, reported The Indian Express.

Violence had first broken out in the state on May 3 after thousands participated in a protest march organised by the All Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur to oppose the demand of the majority Meitei community to be included in the Scheduled Tribe category.

The protestors included the Kukis, one of the larger tribal communities in Manipur. For months now, they have been at loggerheads with the state government, and, in particular with Singh, who the community claims harbours Meitei “majoritarian” sentiments.

In fresh violence on Wednesday night, three police personnel were injured in a gunfight with suspected Kuki militants in Manipur’s Bishnupur district, reported PTI. The gunfight took place in the district’s Tangjeng area.

Meanwhile, the Manipur government has removed the state’s Director General of Police P Doungel. He has been replaced by Indian Police Service officer Rajiv Singh.

Probe role of CM, Rajya Sabha MP in fuelling violence: Tribal body

The Manipur Tribals’ Forum, Delhi has urged the Centre to investigate the alleged role of Chief Minister N Biren Singh and BJP Rajya Sabha MP Leishemba Sanajaoba in fuelling the violent ethnic clashes in Manipur.

The tribal body’s general secretary, WL Hanzsing said that Manipur was witnessed “polarisation politics” only after Singh’s government came to power.

“The Kuki people have traditionally been the closest geographical neighbours of Meiteis in the valley for the longest time,” Hanzsing said, according to The Hindu. “This is a classic case of looking for an enemy to consolidate power.”

The outfit claimed that violence against the Kukis was being perpetrated by extremist Meitei groups such as Arambai Tenggol and Meetei Leepun. It added that Meetei Leepun have publicly owed their allegiance to Sanajaoba.