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Is govt trying to turn Manipur into Kashmir, asks TMC

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NEW DELHI, June 24 (PTI): With Union Home Minister Amit Shah holding an all-party meeting on the Manipur situation on Saturday, the Trinamool Congress demanded an all-party delegation be sent to the violence-hit state within a week as it wondered if the the government was “trying to turn Manipur into Kashmir”.

In a statement for the all-party meeting, in which the TMC was represented by its Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien, the Mamata Banerjee-led party accused the Centre “ignoring” the needs of the people of Manipur.

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Derek O’Brien, sources said, is likely to read part of the statement in the meeting. Leaders of different political parties, including the BJP, Congress, TMC, Left parties and others, are taking part in the meeting which is underway.

In the statement, the TMC tabulated a timeline of the violence in the state, highlighting the story of a seven-year-old boy who was allegedly burned to death with his mother and aunt while on his way to a hospital with a bullet wound.

“This is one story,” the TMC said. “There are thousands of other such heart-wrenching stories. Manipur is in a treacherous situation, and the Union Government has failed miserably.

“When Manipur burns, Assam is affected, Meghalaya is affected, the entire North-East is affected. The whole nation is affected. Is the Union Government trying to turn Manipur into Kashmir?,” the party said.

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The party said there is a pervading sense of hopelessness, fear, and desperation in the state with lives lost, students unable to take exams, patients affected and people living in fear.

Over 4,000 houses have been attacked and destroyed, 60,000 people have been displaced and internet services suspended across the state for over 50 days, violating the Supreme Court judgment, it said.

“There is complete a collapse of the constitutional machinery in the State,” the party alleged.

The party also said Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to the state was much delayed as it came almost four weeks after the violence broke out, and even then he “only visited camps and met selected people.”

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“He did not meet the people on the streets who have been affected, who are living through the trauma. The three-day visit by the Home Minister did not improve the situation at all. In fact, it deteriorated after that,” it said.

The party said its leader and West Bengal Mamata Banerjee had sought a permission to visit Manipur, but she received no response from the home minister.

The party later sought an urgent meeting of the Parliament Committee on Home Affairs to discuss the Manipur crisis, but the Chairman of the Committee replied “it is difficult to hold a discussion on the issue raised”.

“To boost the confidence of the people of Manipur and to provide the healing touch, the All India Trinamool Congress demands that an all-party delegation be sent to Manipur, in the next one week. The message till now from the Union Government has been one of ignoring; that needs to change to healing, caring, restoring peace and harmony,” the statement said.

The party further said there are serious issues of insurgency, land ownership, law and order which need to be addressed in a sensitive manner.

“Peaceful resolution can be achieved only through discussions involving all stake-holders. By regaining the confidence of the people in Manipur, and the North-East.

The conflict, which began as an ethnic issue, has now taken a sharp communal turn,” it alleged.

The statement said that as many as 250 churches and 17 temples have been burned, damaged, and destroyed by mobs on a rampage.

“Just trite photo opportunities between the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, and church leaders are not the solution. The Union Government has to decide whether it wants to create divisions to suit the interests of a political party, or whether it wants to create lasting unity and peace.

“We are here not to do politics, but to offer constructive suggestions. The Union Government must first acknowledge its failures and course correct. Immediately. Manipur, the rest of the North-East, and all of India are craving for peace,” it said in the statement.

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