Manipur tribal leaders reject 'dialogue'
The Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum in India's northeast state of Manipur announced June 26 that it has rejected "any offer of dialogue" with the state's Chief Minister N. Biren Singh. In a statement, the ITLF said the chief minister's stated intention of reaching out to stakeholders following a meeting with India's Home Minister Amit Shah "comes too late after the loss of so many innocent lives and properties and the untold hardships faced by the Kuki-Zo tribals; there is no point in talking about peace without a political solution." Singh, of India's ruling Hindu-nationalist BJP, is accused of inaction or outright collaboration in attacks during weeks of violence between the Hindu Meitei community and the mostly Christian and animist Kuki and Naga indigenous peoples. (The Wire)
The Indian federal government called upon Singh to restore peace in Manipur, precipitating the meeting with Amit Shah. But Human Rights Watch (HRW) on May 30 accused the BJP of "playing divisive politics" by giving the Meitei community favorable treatment over the Kuki and other tribal peoples. HRW South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly said, "The violence in Manipur state since early May has left communities devastated, and it's crucial for the government to restore order in a rights-respecting manner and hold to account those responsible for abuses."
While the violence has abated in recent weeks, there have been 105 deaths and over 320 injuries reported since May 3. Additionally, over 50,650 men, women and children have been displaced as a result of the conflict. (Jurist)
Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi was stopped by local police June 29 on his way to visit Manipur's Churachandpur district, one of the most affected areas in ongoing violence. Gandhi's convoy was halted at Bishnupur, around 20 kilometers outside state capital Imphal. Police cited security concerns for the halt, and resorted to tear-gas shells to disperse the large crowd that amassed. (Jurist)