After a day of high drama over his resignation as the Manipur chief minister on Friday, N Biren Singh got into a Twitter spat with Kuki social media users emphasising the ethnic group’s links with communities across the border in Myanmar. The tweets posted early on Saturday were deleted a few hours later.
Earlier on Friday, Singh had announced his decision to remain the Manipur chief minister following demonstrations by his supporters urging him not to quit. After two months of ethnic violence in the state which has left more than 100 dead, Singh had left his residence on Friday with a resignation letter to meet Governor Anusuiya Uikey. During the demonstration outside his home, one of the protestors tore up his resignation letter.
Hours later, Singh went on Twitter to respond to a number of social media users who had commented on his post about not resigning. One of the users, Thang Kuki, had commented, “You should have resigned long time ago.”
To this, Singh replied: “Are you from India or Myanmar?”
The comment highlights the fact that people from the Kuki community have close cultural ties with those living across the border in Myanmar.
The Manipur chief minister made references to Myanmar in at least two other tweets. To one social media user who said that a huge Meitei population also lived in the neighbouring country, Singh replied, “Meitei in Myanmar never ask their homeland in Myanmar.”
Another person described himself as the citizen of Zalengam, the proposed name for a separate state for the Kuki tribe. To him, Singh replied: “Can be in Myanmar”.
Another Twitter user wrote that Singh should have sent his resignation letter to the governor via fax, and there was no need for him to hand it physically.
In his reply, Singh wrote: “Don’t bark without knowing the ground realities, mainland will not understand the complexity of Myanmar border Indian state.
The drama over Singh’s resignation on Friday played out less than a week after he met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and apprised him of the situation in Manipur. After the meeting, Singh had told reporters that the situation in his state was “very chaotic” and he was not sure of what was happening.
Several Kuki groups in Manipur accuse Singh of giving patronage to shadowy violent Meitei groups, who have been allegedly involved in several incidents of violence in the state in the last two months.