Amit Shah, the Union Home Minister, was criticised for visiting the state of Manipur barely a month after the outbreak of violence there and for using his trip to rebuild trust in the administration.
For the four days he was in Manipur, which is unusually long for a Union Home Minister, Shah effectively ran the state, visiting refugee camps, announcing relief efforts, meeting with officials and members of civil society, and holding a press conference where he emphasised that government actions would be "unbiased".
Bureaucrats hailed Shah's interaction with a diverse civil society, including women's organisations, academics, and social activists. Notably, he did not restrict his participation to political leaders and bureaucrats.
The N Biren Singh administration has come under fire for partisanship in handling the unrest, notably for ignoring Meitei's aggressiveness and inciting Kuki resentment and mistrust.
According to a representative of the Centre, Shah's visits to the three Kuki-dominated areas in the state's three corners were motivated by the desire to reassure the Kuki population.
People carrying the Tricolour and waving banners and placards with the slogans "We Support Your Peace Mission," "We Applaud Central Government's Efforts to Bring Peace in Manipur," and "Our Solution is With You Amit Shah" welcomed the Home Minister in the Kuki-dominated districts of Churachandpur and Kangpokpi, demonstrating their lack of confidence in the Biren Singh administration.
Posters stating the tribe's right to protest and calling for a separate administration for Kukis were dotted among them.
No matter the situation, a Union Home Minister seldom spends more than three days in a tiny state like Manipur, according to a central government official. However, his direct involvement was required since communication between the warring Meitei and Kuki groups had entirely broken down. We trust that his visit will provide the necessary comfort. People trust the guarantees he offers because of his stature.
Shah made the "independent" probe into the violence a frequent pledge in meetings with civil society organisations from both communities. He frequently referred to the Centre's efforts as "unbiased" during the news conference on Thursday to mark the completion of his tour, with Biren Singh sitting next to him.
When the CBI said it would look into six incidences of violence, Shah stated: "I want to make sure the people of Manipur that the enquiry is aimed at getting to the bottom of the issue and punishing those responsible, and will remain unbiased."
Shah once more announced the unification of the security forces, saying: "It will ensure impartial coordination of all security forces' efforts under Kuldeep Singh." In the wake of the unrest on May 3, Singh was named Advisor to the Manipur administration by the CM at the request of the Centre.
Shah spoke with leaders of several political parties, the influential Manipur mothers' organisation Ima, 22 Meitei community groups, and 25 Kuki groups in addition to Biren Singh and his Cabinet, the governor Anusuiya Uikey, top state and central officers, and intellectuals, academics, and retired officials.
"I also held meetings with Olympians and national-level players from the state," the home minister said in a statement to the media.
Shah raised concerns over the continuous delivery of necessities like food, medication, and gasoline to the state's mountainous regions and declared that one Joint Secretary-level official from the Union Home Ministry and five directors from other ministries would camp there.
Given that the "influx" from Myanmar is one of the primary concerns highlighted by the community, Meiteis were promised a fence and increased monitoring at the Moreh border.
In response to inquiries from the Opposition about why it took Shah 26 days to travel to Manipur and the time he spent on the just concluded Karnataka elections, authorities claimed the Home Minister maintained a close eye on events in the state.
The decision to choose Kuldeep Singh as an advisor was his. Ashutosh Sinha was appointed when Biren Singh relieved state DGP P Doungel, a Kuki, of his duties, according to an official.
According to sources, a Kuki peace settlement, which was ready to be inked, is now likely to be postponed; said that the Centre was concerned about not allowing the situation in the border state afflicted by the insurgency to fester.
An officer with the Central Security Establishment advised against seeing Shah's visit as political. The source said, "Even during the entire issue surrounding the departing (Khalistan supporter) Amritpal Singh, the Centre and the state administration had collaborated to squash the matter in the bud.
The general view is that what happens next totally hinges on how quickly the law and order situation improves. Disarming Meitei gangs suspected of stealing weapons from state armouries and taking action against militant Kuki organisations would play a significant role.
An official from the state stated, "That will take some time."
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