Manipur video: Videographer held; Shah hints at ‘conspiracy’ behind leak on Monsoon Session eve
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said that the person who shot the viral video showing two Kuki women being paraded naked in Manipur has been identified and arrested.
Speaking to a group of editors at his Delhi office on Thursday (July 27), Shah said the videographer’s phone has also been seized to unearth more evidence about an alleged conspiracy against the Centre as prima facie it appears that the video was leaked on the eve of the Monsoon Session of Parliament to embarrass the Narendra Modi government.
The home minister said that seven cases related to the ethnic violence in Manipur have been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and the government has requested the Supreme Court to shift these trials to another state to ensure impartiality.
He said that police have registered FIR in respect of two other viral videos that are being circulated on social media, as they have been identified as incidents in Myanmar in 2022.
Sources told The Federal that Shah is now holding talks with the two warring groups and has already held one round of discussions Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), an umbrella body of civil society organisations.
‘Govt was not aware of May 4 video’
During his Thursday meeting with editors, the home minister clarified that he and the intelligence agencies were not aware of the May 4 video before it went viral, and that the full force of the law would be used to punish the culprits. He said that more than 6,000 FIRs have been filed by the Manipur state police in relation to the violence.
Shah said that the government would move the Supreme Court on ST status to Meiteis, and that the government would not bring back the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to new areas in Manipur.
He said Indian security forces have been placed as a buffer zone between the Meitei and Kuki communities with a unified command under security adviser Kuldiep Singh, who is overseeing the law-and-order situation.
At least 12 rounds of talks have been conducted separately with the Kuki and Meitei communities using credible interlocutors, he added.
‘Hopeful that peace will return to the state soon’
Shah said that 72 per cent of state government employees had returned to work, and 82 per cent students were attending school in Manipur. The central and state civil services exams were also held in the state recently, he said, and hoped that peace would return to the state soon.
The minister pointed out that four major ethnic clashes involving Kukis had taken place in the 1990s when the Congress was in power at both the Centre and in the state.
Shah said that he stayed in violence-ridden Manipur for three days and met 41 groups, and junior minister Nityanand Rai was in the state from May 25 to June 17 to monitor the violence in the state.
“Through the violent 1990s in Manipur under the Congress regime, only minister of state for home Rajesh Pilot replied to Parliament, and he spent a mere three-and-a-half hours in the state,” said Shah.
The minister also said that there was no restriction for anyone to travel to Manipur. He said with the railways reaching Manipur now, the prices of food, petrol, and essential commodities had reduced, and were comparable to the prices in Delhi now.
No killing in Manipur since July 18: senior govt officer
A senior government functionary on Thursday said that no killing has occurred in the state since July 18 and asserted that peace and normalcy will be restored soon through ongoing talks with the two warring communities – Meiteis and Kukis.
He said the prime minister would speak to Shah every day after the violence broke out to formulate the government’s approach.
“There have been days when Modi has spoken to the home minister even thrice,” he said.
More than 50,000 displaced people from both the communities were shifted successfully by May 7, he asserted.
“The government is also working to curb the influx of immigrants from Myanmar and the drugs trade, also a source of tension between communities,” he said.
The government has been taking biometric data of all immigrants, many of whom have entered due to internal issues in Myanmar, to ensure that they do not get citizenship benefits, he added.
(With inputs from agencies)