Forget about 79 days, for such a scale of violence, even a week (of delay in response) is a long time, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Manipur Paolienlal Haokip said criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s press statement on the ethnic violence in the northeastern state after a ‘deafening silence’. As a representative of the Kuki-Zomi community in the state, the BJP MLA believes PM Modi’s priorities are ‘entirely misplaced’, as he recalled his unsuccessful attempt to reach the Prime Minister before he left for the US State visit.
In an interview with Newslaundry, Haokip said, without discounting the importance of international relations (as a part of the PM’s US visit), it is a ‘modicum of humanity’ to pay attention to resolve the matter where people are getting killed, which is ‘lacking’.
“We’ve sought, as representatives of the people, an appointment with the Prime Minister. There was no response. Till today, we’re still waiting for the opportunity to apprise him of the gravity of the situation,” he said.
Haokip is among 10 Kuki MLAs who demanded, in a letter, a ‘separate administration’ alleging N Biren Singh-led state government’s ‘miserable failure to protect’ the tribal group. They alleged that the “unabated violence that began on May 3, 2023, perpetrated by majority Meiteis tacitly supported by existing Government of Manipur against the Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi hill tribals has already partitioned the state and effected a total separation” from Manipur.
The legislators listed four incidents of crime against women in the state and Haokip argued whether it would require the audio-visuals of those incidents for the chief minister, PM and Union home minister to pay heed to the atrocities in the state. “Isn’t the state government supposed to take action on such inhuman cruelties?” he asked, adding that it is either the CM’s ‘total incompetence or a cover-up’ when he claims that he came to know of the incident, where the video of two women paraded naked went viral, only recently despite the FIR being lodged almost two months back. “I think it is a cover-up.”
Speaking on non-alignment with his party on the issue, Haokip said as a country, it is important to go beyond the party lines on matters related to human rights concerns and issues affecting the dignity of a person.