The Congress alleged on Thursday that “Manipur is burning” because the BJP has created fissures among communities with its “politics of hate”, as Rahul Gandhi called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to focus on restoring peace and normalcy in the northeastern state.
The Congress also said Union Home Minister Amit Shah should be sacked in view of a total breakdown of law and order and constitutional machinery in Manipur, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government should be dismissed and President’s Rule imposed.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge appealed to the people of Manipur to exercise restraint and let peace prevail.
“Manipur is burning. BJP has created fissures among communities and destroyed the peace of a beautiful state,” Kharge wrote on Twitter.
“BJP’s politics of hate, division and its greed for power is responsible for this mess. We appeal to people from all sides to exercise restraint and give peace a chance,” he said.
In a tweet, Gandhi said he was deeply concerned about Manipur’s rapidly deteriorating law-and-order situation.
“The Prime Minister must focus on restoring peace and normalcy. I urge the people of Manipur to stay calm,” he said.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Randeep Surjewala shared a government order on social media and pointed that the state government has written that it is “pleased to authorise shoot at sight orders”.
“Just like the British government, only the Modi government could use such draconian language as there is complete breakdown of law and order and constitutional machinery in Manipur,” he said in a video message.
“This is a fit case where Home Minister of India Amit Shah should resign or should be sacked forthwith. This is a fit case where the BJP government in Manipur should be dismissed and Article 356, that is President’s Rule, should be imposed,” he added.
The Manipur government issued “shoot at sight” orders on Thursday to contain the spiralling violence in the state between tribals and the majority Meitei community, which has displaced more than 9,000 people from their villages.
Fifty-five columns of the Army and Assam Rifles had to be deployed to contain widespread rioting. More troops are being brought in from Nagaland by road, while the Indian Air Force (IAF) is flying in reinforcements from Guwahati and Tezpur, defence officials indicated.
In a video statement, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the BJP got a resounding mandate in Manipur in 2021, a “double-engine” government was installed in 2022 but less than 15 months later, “the entire state is in flames”.
“The society is in foment, internet and social media are suspended, the chief minister is under siege, MLAs resigning right, left and centre and what are the prime minister and home minister doing? They are busy going around polarising Karnataka,” Ramesh alleged.
“It is really tragic what has happened in Manipur. All sections of Manipur’s diverse society are unhappy, up in flames, youths dissatisfied, tribals dissatisfied, non-tribal communities dissatisfied. This is a betrayal of the people’s mandate,” he said.
Ramesh called for sternest action to restore peace, normalcy and tranquillity in the northeastern state.
He also alleged that Congress workers and leaders as well as critics of the chief minister are being “attacked” in Manipur.
“How long can the country see this insensitivity to the suffering of the people of Manipur? I feel very very anguished and pained by what is happening,” he said.
In a tweet, along with his statement, Ramesh said, “The reality of the ‘Double-Engine’ Government: Set fire to the state. Stay silent at the Centre. In less than 15 months of BJP forming govt, the entire state of Manipur is in flames. But HM Shah and CryPM Modi are busy campaigning in Karnataka.” Surjewala wrote on Twitter: “Prime Minister and Home Minister are busy sowing the seeds of polarisation and division in Karnataka by weaving fake narratives as #Manipur_is_burning.
“A decisive defeat for BJP in Karnataka is the only guarantee of serving national interest. Time to sack Home Minister Sh. Amit Shah and dismiss the BJP government of Manipur.” “A failed BJP government in Manipur, a failed Modi government at the Centre … could only use such draconian language for ‘shooting its own citizens’. Thousands uprooted and evacuated, communal clashes all around, properties burnt and destroyed, murders, arson, loot all around, No semblance of law and order left, yet government of India is sleeping,” he said.
“The PM and HM are busy electioneering in Karnataka as #Manipur_is_burning! Who cares? For Modi ji, only votes matter.
“This is a direct failure of Home Minister Sh. Amit shah, who must resign forthwith,” the Congress leader said.
The clashes that broke out on Wednesday intensified overnight, with counter-attacks being mounted by rival communities in retaliation to earlier attacks, after members of the Naga and Kuki communities organised a “Tribal Solidarity March”.
So far, 9,000 people have been rescued by the forces from the violence-hit areas and given shelter, a defence spokesperson said on Thursday, adding that more people are being shifted to safer places.
The Army and Assam Rifles were requisitioned on Wednesday night, and along with the state police, the forces contained the violence by the morning, the spokesperson said.