After a mob torched the home of Union minister RK Ranjan Singh in violence-hit Manipur, he said on Friday that there had been a “total failure” of law and order in the state.
Singh’s residence, located in the Imphal East, was attacked with petrol bombs on Thursday night despite a curfew in the district.
This was the second time that Singh’s home was attacked. A mob largely led by the Meitei community had first attacked his home on May 25. Singh, the Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Education, also belongs to the Meitei community.
The second attack took place when the minister was not at his home. “I am currently in Kerala for official work,” he said on Friday, according to ANI. “Thankfully, nobody got injured last night at my Imphal home. The miscreants came with petrol bombs and damage has been done to the ground floor and first floor of my home.”
Singh said that the law and order situation in Manipur has completely failed. “The existing government could not maintain peace, and that’s why the central government has sent a lot of protection and the Rapid Action Force,” he added, according to ANI. “I do not know how the state mechanism is failing.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party is currently in power in Manipur.
A security official at Singh’s home said that there were around 1,200 persons in the mob.
“We couldn’t prevent the incident as the mob was overwhelming and we couldn’t control the situation,” Escort Commander L Dineshwor Singh said, according to NDTV. “They threw petrol bombs coming in from all directions...from the bylane behind the building and from the front entrance, so we simply couldn’t control the mob.”
Unidentified officials told the news channel that at the time of the attack, there were nine security escort personnel, five security guards and eight additional guards at the minister’s house.
The attack occurred amid ethnic clashes that have been taking place in Manipur between the Meitei and Kuki communities since May 3. The violence has left more than 100 persons dead, over 300 injured and thousands displaced. Nearly 60,000 are taking shelter in 350 relief camps.
On Friday, Singh said that it was very sad to see what was happening in his home state. “I will still continue to appeal for peace,” he added. “Those indulging in this kind of violence are absolutely inhuman.”
On Wednesday night, unidentified miscreants had set the official residence of Manipur minister Nemcha Kipgen on fire in the Lamphel area of the Imphal West district. No one was present at the Bharatiya Janata Party MLA’s home when it was torched.
On Thursday, unidentified miscreants set at least two houses on fire in the New Checkon area of Imphal. The area has a mixed population of Meiteis, Kukis, Nagas and others. But, the houses that were set on fire were located in a Kuki settlement.
On Tuesday, nine people were killed and 10 were injured in the sharpest escalation of violence in Manipur’s Aigejang village, situated along the border of Kangpokpi and Imphal East districts.
Centre’s assurances empty, tribal group tells SC
With tensions simmering, the Manipur Tribal Forum has told the Supreme Court that the Union government’s assurances on controlling the violence are “non-serious” and empty, Bar and Bench reported.
The group filed an application on June 9 seeking to place its stand before the Supreme Court. It is among petitioners who have moved the court, seeking directions to the Centre and Manipur government to ensure that tribals who had fled to Central Reserve Police Force camps can return to their homes under a security escort.
The Manipur Tribal Forum said that since the last hearing in the court on May 17, a total of 81 persons from the Kuki community have been killed and 31,410 displaced. It also claimed that 141 villages have been destroyed, and 237 churches as well as 73 administrative quarters have been torched.
“The reason why [the Supreme Court] ought not to rely anymore on the empty assurances given by UOI [Union of India] is because the UOI and the chief minister of the state have embarked jointly on a communal agenda for the ethnic cleansing of the Kukis,” the group said.
The forum has alleged that those attacking Kukis are backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in power in the state.
Tribal leaders’ group calls for President’s Rule
The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum, a group representing recognised tribes in Manipur’s Lamka district, on Thursday called for the imposition of President’s Rule in the state to create conditions for peace and dialogue.
The group said that there was a “heightened second wave of attacks on Kuki Zo villages” in the district’s Sugnu Kangchup and Khopibung areas. “There is an urgent need to provide security to the Kuki Zo tribal villages from the unending incursions by Meitei militants,” the forum said.
The group also called for the “total separation” of the administration of Kuki Zo-dominated areas from the rest of Manipur. “This is the only solution that safeguards and protects the lives of tribals from the oppression of the state of Manipur, and ensure lasting peace in the region,” it said.
Meanwhile, the Manipur government sought more time from the High Court to put forward its stand on whether the Meiteis should be included among the Scheduled Tribes, The Hindu reported.
On April 19, the High Court had directed the state government to consider petitions of the Meiteis to be listed as a Scheduled Tribe. The order revived old anxieties between the Meitei community and the hill tribes in the northeastern state, and sparked the ongoing violence.