Imphal: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday held a series of meetings in Imphal with his Manipur counterpart N. Biren Singh and various other bodies and civil society organisations on the ethnic violence in the state in which at least 105 people have been killed so far and over 320 injured since it first broke out on May 3.
The Assam Chief Minister’s visit came nine days after Home Minister Amit Shah’s four-day visit to the violence-hit northeastern state.
Sarma held a series of meetings with Biren Singh, many MLAs and organisations in an effort to tame the ethnic hostilities.
Meanwhile, amid sporadic incidents of violence, the Manipur government on Saturday extended the suspension of Internet services for the eighth time till June 15, to prevent the spread of rumours and videos, photos, and messages, which might affect the law and order situation.
Various Kuki tribal organisations continue to block the Imphal-Dimapur National Highway (NH-2) in Manipur, creating a serious problem of transporting essentials, food grains, transport fuel, and life-saving drugs.
Though the state government with security escorts has been trying to ferry various essentials from different parts of the country through the Imphal-Jiribam National Highway (along southern Assam), the NH-2 (via Nagaland) is considered as the lifeline for Manipur.
Sarma, who is also the Convenor of BJP-led North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), arrived in Manipur on Saturday on a day-long visit.
Soon after his arrival, Sarma headed to the CM’s secretariat in Imphal and held a closed-door meeting with Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, some ministers and other officials.
After the meeting, he went to a hotel, where he met some leaders of several Civil Society Organisations, besides some MLAs and key leaders.
According to political analysts, Sarma, who is close to the Union Home Minister, was carrying a message from Delhi to find a solution to the ethnic violence by involving all stakeholders.
There were reports that Shah might once again visit Manipur to curb the violence and restore peace and normalcy.
Also on Saturday, the Central government announced that it has constituted a Peace Committee with Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey as the Chairperson in an effort to bring normalcy.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that besides the Governor, the Committee will also include Manipur CM Biren Singh, a few state Ministers, MPs, MLAs, leaders from different political parties, former civil servants, educationists, litterateurs, artistes, social workers and representatives of different ethnic groups.
The MHA said that the mandate of the committee would be to facilitate the peacemaking process among various ethnic groups of the state, including peaceful dialogue and negotiations between conflicting parties or groups.
“The Committee should strengthen social cohesiveness, mutual understanding and facilitate cordial communication between various ethnic groups,” it added.
Addressing a press conference in Manipur on June 1, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that a Peace Committee under Governor Uikey will be set up which will have representatives of all political parties, besides representatives from the ethnic communities and social organisations.
Shah visited Manipur from May 29 to June 1.
Meanwhile, a three-member Commission of Inquiry, set up by the MHA on June 4 to probe the violence, arrived in Imphal on Friday.
A senior Manipur Home Department official told IANS that the Commission under the chairmanship of the Gauhati High Court’s former Chief Justice Ajai Lamba would soon start their probe.
The MHA asked the probe panel to submit its report to the Central government as soon as possible but not later than six months from the date of its first sitting.
Former IAS officer Himanshu Shekhar Das and retired IPS officer Aloka Prabhakar are the other two members of the Commission.