(Bloomberg) -- India’s federal government warned tribal insurgent groups not to disrupt the peace in the northeastern state of Manipur bordering Myanmar where recent ethnic clashes left 70 people dead.
Insurgents will be dealt with strictly if they violate a ceasefire agreement struck more than 15 years ago, Home Minister Amit Shah said at a press conference in the state capital of Imphal on Thursday, urging them to surrender illegally obtained weapons. “Police will start combing operations from tomorrow.”
The suspension of operations agreement signed between the authorities and Kuki armed groups in 2008 requires their cadres to confine themselves in designated camps. The state government has blamed these groups for exacerbating the clashes which began in early May
Ahead of Shah’s visit to the restive state, India’s security forces this week killed about 40 people from tribal groups identified as militants, part of an ongoing security operation.
Violence erupted primarily between the Kukis and the majority Meitei Hindu residents over a demand that Meiteis be granted access forest lands, jobs and places in educational institutions set aside for tribal communities under the government’s affirmative action guarantees.
Shah also announced formation of a judiciary commission to investigate the clashes, and a peace committee. The federal government will also provide a relief and rehabilitation package, he said.
Indian authorities should impartially investigate the ongoing killings by ethnic groups and security forces in Manipur state and work with community leaders to restore security, Human Rights Watch said earlier this week.
“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,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
The northeastern states lag behind most of India in terms of development and government jobs are the main source of employment. The anger highlights the challenges for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration to generate more employment, especially as he seeks a third term in office in national elections due next year.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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