3 July 2023 6:45 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday sought for an updated status report from the State of Manipur regarding the present position of the violent clashes between communities which erupted in the State in the last week of May this year. The Court directed the State to update the position regarding rehabilitation camps, recovery of arms and law and order. The matter will be next considered next Monday....
The Supreme Court on Monday sought for an updated status report from the State of Manipur regarding the present position of the violent clashes between communities which erupted in the State in the last week of May this year. The Court directed the State to update the position regarding rehabilitation camps, recovery of arms and law and order.
The matter will be next considered next Monday. The bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice Manoj Misra was considering two petitions - one, a petition filed by the Manipur Tribal Forum Delhi seeking the protection of the Kuki tribe by the Indian Army and; two, a petition filed by Chairman of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, Dinganglung Gangmei, challenging the direction of the Manipur High Court to consider the inclusion of Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe list. It may be noted that the issue related to ST status for Meitei triggered the riots in the state.
When the matter started, Senior Advocate Dr.Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the Manipur Tribal Forum, submitted that the situation in Manipur has worsened. However, this was countered by the Solicitor General of India, who said that the situation is improving slowly in view of the deployment of sufficient numbers of armed forces and setting up of relief camps. He added that curfew has been reduced to 5 hours a day, which indicates an improvement. "My learned friend may not give this a communal angle- like Christians or something. Real human beings are being dealt with", SG stated.
Gonslaves however asserted that the situation has "escalated" despite the assurances given by the State on the last occasion. While there are twenty killings as on the last date of hearing, the numbers have gone up to 110 today, the senior lawyer added. He alleged that several militant group leaders are openly giving calls for annihilation of Kukis. He said that one leader came on an interview hosted by Karan Thapar and gave open threats against Kukis. Though there were open calls of violence, no police action has been taken against them. Gonsalves alleged that these militant groups are "state sponsored".
"As long as these armed groups are not disbanded and allowed to go and kill, there will be an escalation of violence. Last night, 3 tribals killed and 1 beheaded, first beheading of tribals. These are the Meities, they are the dominant group. I have given a list of all the hundreds of Kukis who have been killed village wise. The Kukis are not attacking. The Kukis are in the villages defending. The Meities are defending. The armed groups are crossing the lines. Once they cross the line, the women gather in large numbers and stop the army. The army has released two press statements that they are not allowed to do their duty and protect the people", Gonsalves stated.
Another counsel, appearing for the International Meities Organization, said that there should be an investigation into the source of assault weapons and the militant groups behind the violence. "The suspicion is that the militants have come out of the shelters and are fighting, otherwise how will you explain the assault weapons. There should be a headcount of the militants. Union of India should look into this aspect", the counsel said. The Court asked the SG to take specific instructions on this aspect as well.
Gangmei's petition argues that directing the state government to recommend a tribe for the Scheduled Tribes List does not fall within the jurisdiction of the High Court.
The Manipur Tribal Forum's IA, claiming that the Kukis are being ethnically cleansed by an armed communal organisation, prays for the protection of the tribe by the Indian Army since the State and its Police force are not trusted by the tribals.
Earlier, the Supreme Court vacation bench comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice MM Sundresh had declined to urgently list the IA filed by the Manipur Tribal Forum in the vacations and has listed the same for today, that is, July 3, 2023.
In May, the bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud had called for a status report from the State regarding the security measures and relief camps. Following the order, the State submitted a status report in the third week of May, stating :
1. 62 companies of CaPF and 126 columns of army/Assam rifles have been deployed for assisting in the area domination, sanitisation, and maintenance of law and order situation in the state.
2. A total of 318 relief camps have been opened where more than 47914 persons have been given relief.
3. Specific security measures are being taken in every district and every locality as per the needs of this specific area. The district police, CAPF, CDO, and VDF are being deployed in various areas. The patrols are doing regular patrolling and round-the-clock security is being deployed in general and religious places by way of foot patrolling.
4. Free passage of people from relief/safe locations to airport/native places is taking place and about 3124 people have been helped through flights.
5. The state home department has issued instructions to DGP and all district SsP to register FIR's of all reported cases irrespective of jurisdiction.
Case : DINGANGLUNG GANGMEI vs MUTUM CHURAMANI MEETEI AND ORS.Diary No. 19206-2023 and MANIPUR TRIBAL FORUM DELHI vs THE STATE OF MANIPUR AND ANR
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