Tipa (Mizoram): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Wednesday made a fervent appeal to the warring Meitei and Kuki communities in Manipur to sit together and have a heart-to-heart conversation to end the trust deficit between the two sides.
In an address at an election rally in this southern-most part of Mizoram bordering Myanmar, Singh said violence is no solution to any problem and the two communities in Manipur must talk to each other to improve the situation in the troubled state.
“The Northeast has been peaceful in the last nine years. However, we have witnessed violence in Manipur and it is painful for us,” Singh said.
“Violence is no solution to any problem. What we need is heart-to-heart conversation. I appeal to both the communities to sit together and end trust deficit,” Singh added.
Manipur had been witnessing large-scale violence in the last few months because of hostilities between the Meitei and Kuki communities.
More than 180 people have lost their lives since ethnic violence broke out in the state May 3, when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley, while tribals, which include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mostly in the hill districts
The senior BJP leader said, “I want to categorically say that it (violence) did not take place because of any political party. It happened because of certain situations.”
The defence minister also accused the Congress of trying to exploit the situation in Manipur for political gain.
“When the situation in Manipur was deteriorating, Congress tried its best to do politics over it,” he said.
“There is a need to keep the entire country, including Mizoram and Northeast, away from the negative politics of Congress,” he added.
The defence minister said the Narendra Modi-government “believes that unless Northeast is truly developed, the dream of a strong, prosperous and self-reliant India will not be fulfilled.”
In his address, Singh said an operation to ensure a drug-free Mizoram will be rolled out if the BJP comes to power in the state.
The defence minister also referred to use of the Air Force in Mizoram by the Congress government in the Centre in 1966.
“When Congress was ruling at the Centre, they carried out the country’s first air strike on Mizoram. Now, BJP is in power and we will never do such things,” he said, referring to the 1966 episode when the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a strike in Aizwal.
The strike was targeted at some militants.