Manipur Tribal Forum moves Supreme Court alleging violence has BJP support seeks SIT probe

Amidst ensuing clashes in the State of Manipur, a public interest litigation (PIL) petition was filed before the Supreme Court on Saturday seeking directions to the Central and State governments to evacuate the Manipuri Tribals who had fled to CRPF camps and to ensure they reach their residence safely under security escort [Manipur Tribal Forum vs Union of India]

The PIL filed by Manipur Tribal Forum alleged that the attacks on tribal communities in Manipur has the full support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is in power in the State as well as at the Centre.

“These attacks had the full support of the party in power (Indian People’s Party, BJP) at the State as well as the Centre which supports the dominant group and has planned the attacks on account of a non-secular agenda which is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of India,” the petition said.

The PIL further alleged that 30 tribal persons were killed by the dominant community and 132 were injured but no first information report (FIR) has been registered so far in relation to any of these.

“Neither FIR was registered nor is there any investigation taking place as the police itself is on the side of the dominant community and has stood by idle while the killings took place,” it was submitted.

The petitioner, therefore, prayed for a Special Investigation Team to be constituted headed by Harekrishna Deka, former Director General of Police of Assam and monitored by Chief Justice Tinlianthang Vaiphei, former Chairman of Meghalaya State Human Rights Commission so that the accused who assaulted the tribals could be prosecuted.

The current clashes and violence in Manipur has stemmed from the opposition of certain tribes to the demand by the majority Meitei community to grant them Scheduled Tribes status.

On April 19, 2023, Manipur high court had ordered the Manipur government to “consider inclusion of the Meetei/Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe list, expeditiously, preferably within a period four weeks” from the date of the order.

This led to clashes between tribal and non-tribal communities.

Manipur 2022 election

2022 Manipur Legislative Assembly election results

The PIL before the top court has also prayed for directions to the Central Forces to immediately make secure and safe the areas where the tribals are currently residing such as New Lambulane, Chekon, Games Village, Paite Veng, Lamphel, Langol, Mantripukhri, Chingmairong, Dulahlane, Langthabal.

Further, the PIL has sought directions to reconstruct the churches which were impacted by the violent clashes.

The PIL was filed through advocate Satya Mitra and drawn by advocates Hetvi Patel and Kaoliangpou Kamei.

Apart from the PIL, another petition has also been filed before the apex court by the Hill Areas Committee Chairperson and BJP MLA Dinganglung Gangmei challenging the March 27 order of the Manipur High Court on Scheduled Tribe status for the Meitei community.

This petition has said that there is no proposal for the inclusion of Meiteis pending with the Central government and that no such proposal has ever been sent by the State to the Union government.

Meanwhile a defence statement said that 23,000 civilians from all communities have been rescued so far and were moved to military garrisons.

Manipur government called for an all-political party meeting to discuss the current situation in the state and to find ways to bring peace and stability to the region. 

The meeting was attended by representatives from various political parties including Congress, CPI, JD(U), NPF, Shiv Sena, TMC, BSP, AAP, MPP, AIFB, MNDF, ABHKP and key stakeholders including former CM O Ibobi Singh