Manipur Violence: Biggest Barrier to Justice is CM Biren Singh, Says AIDWA Team After Visit
New Delhi: The situation in Manipur remains volatile and desperately needs a healing touch. However, this cannot happen unless Chief Minister Biren Singh remains in office. These strong words came from members of a delegation of All India Democratic Women Association (AIDWA), which has returned after a visit to the Northeastern state that has been seeing ethnic violence since May 3 this year.
Addressing a press conference here, Brinda Karat, politburo member, Communist Party of India (Marxist), who was part of the team, along with AIDWA secretary Maryam Dhawale and president P K Sreemathi, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightly said that the people of the country stand with Manipur. “However, the bitter truth is that state and Union government no longer stand with Manipur. It is unbelievable that a state of India is geographically and emotionally divided,” she said.
Karat said, “I wonder who is briefing PM Modi on the situation in Manipur which he is saying that peace is returning to the state. There can be no peace until those driven out of Imphal return to it. There can be no peace until people fleeing tribal areas return to their homes. It’s a war zone and PM Modi misled the people about situation in Manipur,” she said.
The CPI(M) leader said everywhere Aadhar cards were being checked “and if you belong to other community, there is persistent danger of losing your life.”
“We saw thousands of displaced children in relief camps who lost their entire year just because they could not sit for their exams. The communities which were already exploited have been pushed to the margins by this government and its policies,” she added.
According to the team that visited Manipur, the “biggest grief” of the people remains non-delivery of justice even after 100 days.
“The process of justice has not moved an inch. The justice to victims of sexual violence is still denied. There would be no closure for them. Yesterday (August 15), Biren Singh said that people should move on by forgetting and forgiving. I want to ask him if he is saying that rape victims should forget about violation of their bodies,” Karat said.
The AIDWA team said people told them that crimes were perpetrated to them due to their ethnicity, identity and religion. “If that can happen there, it can happen in any corner of the country. We observed that the biggest barrier to justice is CM Biren Singh himself. The insensitivity of the administration is a matter of pride for him because he has the backing of the Modi government,” she added.
Referring to Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement in Parliament, saying that Biren Singh cannot be removed because he is “cooperating” with the Centre, Karat said, “I wish to ask who is he cooperating with? With the Constitution of India? With Victims?”
Karat added that the turmoil had decimated the local economy where women were employed in local handloom industries. “The poor women of both communities told us that the situation is so dire that they are eating once a day because there are no food grains supply. They cannot get any loan because local money lenders have run out of cash” she said.
Dhawale said the delegation visited Churachandpur, which is now called 'Lamka' by the locals. She said there were around 250 relief camps sheltering more than 15,000 people.
“It was heart-rending to meet the young girl and the older woman whose ordeal shocked the entire country. These women were handed over to the marauding mobs by the police. The desperation of the young girl's teenage brother and father to save her could be felt when it was described to us. The brother clung tightly to his sister. Somehow, both the victims reached a relief camp,” she added.
Dhawale said the young girl told them that she could not tell her mother of what had happened to her as she was already suffering because of the deaths of her son and husband. “The girl kept her terrible ordeal buried within her for days together. The mother learnt of it only after the video surfaced. It broke her heart,” said Dhawale.
A report released after the visit of the AIDWA team quoted the mother as saying, “I cannot express my grief in words. No amount of money can compensate our loss. We want help to fight this government and want a separate administration for ourselves. I want to see the dead bodies of my son and husband. Please help me to see them".
According to her, the district collector told them that the bodies (husband and son) were lying in the morgue in Imphal as the morgue in Bishnupur was full beyond its capacity. It has a capacity of 18 and actually 39 bodies were kept there.
The older woman said, "We do not want any woman from any community to go through what we have suffered. My son was living in the hostel of a college. I had not seen him since March. Now I will never see him again. We want this to get over as soon as possible."
Putting forth demands, P K Sreemathi said that Biren Singh must be removed to ensure the process of justice begins. “We demand that a proper assessment of violence should take place to ensure rehabilitation. Additionally, all culprits of rape, murder, gang-rape and violence must be arrested. All inhabitants should be given 10 kg of ration under public distribution system until economic stability returns to state,” she added.
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