Amidst turmoil in Manipur, a BJP MLA from the Kuki community has broken ranks to openly criticize Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his notable absence of vocal leadership and the government’s handling of the situation at hand.
The MLA expressed deep concern over the escalating situation and the government's lack of action in bringing stability and peace to the region.
BJP MLA Paolienlal Haokip, while speaking to Newslaundry, denounced the time taken by the Prime Minister to finally address the nation regarding the ethnic clashes. "Forget about 79 days, for such scale of violence, even a week is a long time,” Haokip said.
“Silence is deafening and I am very disappointed as a leader of my people,” he added.
He also claimed that if the gruesome video of the strip-parade of two women hadn’t surfaced, PM Modi would have further continued his silence.
“The Prime Minister’s statement is still seen as an isolated case of assault on women but we have failed to focus on the ethnic cleansing that is happening, because of which such depravity had occurred,” he said.
PM Modi finally condemned the violence in Manipur as recently as July 20, nearly 79 days since the ethnic clashes in the state erupted between the Meitei and Kuki communities. He was forced to react as the ghastly video of two Kuki women being paraded naked by a mob surfaced on social media, putting the nation to shame.
Haokip, a BJP MLA from Saikot in Manipur’s Churachandpur, referred PM Modi’s US state visit amid the raging violence in Manipur, saying that the Prime Minister has "entirely misplaced" priorities. He claimed that he was unable to reach PM Modi after repeated attempts. He further said that it is a "modicum of humanity" to pay attention to resolve the matter where people are getting killed
“We've sought, as representatives of the people, an appointment with the Prime Minister. There was no response. Till today, we're still waiting for the opportunity to apprise him the gravity of the situation,” he said.
The BJP MLA also attacked Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, saying he "is known to be hand in glove" with radical groups like Meitei Leepun and Arambai Tenggol, who he alleged were "the main executors of the ethnic cleansing of Kuki Zo community".
“We failed to focus on the instigators of the violence. The head of the government was at the forefront of building a narrative which maligns the entire victim community. The so-called cultural or civil societies within the Meitei community like the Meitei Leepun and Arambai Tenggol have been building negative narratives against the Kuki-Zo community for long. We have been turning a blind eye to that,” he said.
“The actual perpetrators of the violence, not to condone them, are less guilty than the people who instigate it,” Haokip asserted.
He further said that CM N Biren Singh’s claim of not knowing about the two Kuki women being paraded naked and gangraped, even after 2 months, is nothing but a “cover-up”. The legislator also blamed "the Meitei militia alongside the police commandos" for "99 per cent of the violence."
Notably, Haokip is among 10 Kuki MLAs who demanded, in a letter, a "separate administration," citing the state government's "miserable failure to protect" the Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi tribal groups. They claimed that the "unabated violence that began on May 3, 2023 perpetrated by majority Meiteis tacitly supported by existing Government of Manipur against the Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi hill tribals has already partitioned the state and effected a total separation” from Manipur.
Haokip also highlighted the non-alignment with his party on the issue, saying - “On certain issues... We, as a country, need to learn to go beyond party lines."
Upon being asked if a separate administration is the only solution, he said, “That’s the only way out now. Forget about ordinary citizens, even as an elected MLA, there is no security of life for me to go and attend the assembly in Imphal.”
Further, Haokip said, in a war, rape and molestation are the worst of human rights violations, and they show depravity. He detailed more instances of crime against women in Manipur, which were also highlighted by a group of 10 Kuki-Zomi MLAs.
The criticism of PM Modi, coming from his own party, should serve as a wake-up call for the central government. It is now high time to demonstrate unwavering commitment to restoring peace and stability in violence-stricken Manipur.