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Manipur in flames due to failure of ‘double engine’ BJP governments of state, Centre: Congress

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Tuesday blamed the ”double engine government” of the BJP at the Centre as well as in Manipur for allegedly failing to prevent the ethnic violence in the state which led to the loss of many lives. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the party is deeply concerned over the tragedy in Manipur and alleged that the situation proves the gross ”callousness, negligence and casualness” of the state government and the ”inactivity” of the central government.

Speaking at a press conference here, he said the basic question is that we are very concerned at the hateful, hostile and horrid conditions we find in Manipur, adding that the sensitive north-eastern border state is up in flames. ”It reflects the state government’s and the central government’s ‘double engine lawlessness’, ‘double engine statelessness’ and ‘double engine shamelessness’. It shows that Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government is badly devoid of qualities of statecraft, stateliness, and statesmanship.

”It has led to a sad, sordid saga of provoked communities and castes against each other with such a vital and sensitive state up in flames. How did it happen… one major contributory factor, little noticed, has emerged from yesterday’s hearing in the Supreme Court,” he told reporters. Violent clashes broke out in the northeastern state after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in 10 hill districts on May 3 to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status, leading to the deaths of at least 54 people.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal valley. Tribals — Nagas and Kukis — constitute another 40 per cent of the population and live in the hill districts.

The clashes were preceded by tension over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land which had led to a series of smaller agitations since February this year.

Singhvi said the apex court put a very candid question on why the state government did not tell the High Court of a 23-year-old judgment of the constitution bench of the Supreme Court that such notifications and approvals, such inclusions of STs cannot be done by state government or state high courts and can only be done by a presidential notification.

”Why was this not the preliminary objection of the state government in the course of the hearing in the Manipur High Court? The first sentence from their mouth ought to have been that this proceeding should not go on, because we, the State Government have no such power, no such jurisdiction. It is settled in a two-and-half decades ago judgement.

”If this was not so, does it not reflect the utter callousness, casualness, possibly the complicity of the state government? Who will be accountable for that? Who will be accountable for this gross negligence, resulting in the loss of precious lives and this great alarming situation in Manipur?” Singhvi asked.

The Congress leader further said that while the central government has brought several ST-related bills in the last two sessions of Parliament, including during the winter and budget sessions, but no attention was paid to the Manipur ST issue.

”If so many other bills or STs are coming, surely this should have been addressed. Who is responsible for this action?” he asked.

”Clearly responsible for this inaction leading to dangerous consequences… is the failure of the ‘double engine sarkar’. It is a ‘double engine’ sarkari failure,” he asserted. Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, citing a report quoting the chief justice of India, said, ”In light of what the CJI has said — it is astonishing what a single judge of the Manipur High Court did, triggering such a human tragedy!”. ”But the ideological brotherhood, its henchman in Manipur, and his masters at the Centre cannot escape their responsibility,” he said on Twitter.

Ramesh cited the news report that quoted the CJI saying that the high court does not have the power to direct changes in the Scheduled Tribes list and asked why a constitution bench verdict of 2000 noting that courts do not have power to “add or subtract” the ST list was not ”shown” to the Manipur High Court.

Concerned over the huge loss of life and property, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and the Manipur government to step up relief and rehabilitation efforts for those hit by the violence in the north-eastern state, besides protecting places of worship, many of which were targeted during the mayhem.

Manipur Chief Minister Singh said 60 people have been killed, 231 injured and 1,700 houses, including religious places, burnt in the violence.

Source: Press Trust of India

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