UPDATE- 152 killed since May in restive Indian state: Home minister

UPDATE- 152 killed since May in restive Indian state: Home minister

Amit Shah urges both Meitei, Kuki communities to engage in dialogue, saying violence is ‘not a solution to any problem’

UPDATE WITH REMARKS FROM HOME MINISTER; REVISES HEADLINE, DECK, LEDE

By Anadolu staff

ANKARA (AA) - The Indian government on Wednesday said that 152 people have lost their lives in the northeastern state of Manipur since the deadly ethnic clashes broke out in the state in May.

Home Minister Amit Shah, who spoke during a debate on the no-confidence motion in the parliament against the government, said all efforts are being made to ensure peace in the state.

Out of 152, 107 people were killed in May alone, Shah said, adding that violence is decreasing slowly in the state and "we should not add fuel to fire."

The violence in Manipur started in May after a court ruling directed the state government to submit recommendations for the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe category, which enraged the state's tribal population.

The Meitei people, who are mostly Hindus, form the largest ethnic group of Manipur. The two other communities in the state, Nagas, and Kukis, are mostly Christians.Thousands have been displaced due to the violence.

Tensions in Manipur were exacerbated after a video showing two women paraded naked by a mob went viral on social triggering nationwide outrage.

According to Shah, political instability in neighboring Myanmar prompted people from the Kuki community to flee into the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur.

He said it created a feeling of "insecurity" in parts of Manipur among the Meitei people and that the court ruling added “fuel to the fire.”

Shah said that a clash broke out on May 3 and riots followed.

Appealing to both Meitei and Kuki communities to engage in dialogue, he said violence is “not a solution to any problem,” adding that there is no intention of the Indian government to change the demography of the state and "politics should not be done on this issue.”

Shah said over 14,000 people have been arrested so far and nobody supports such incidents (of violence), but to "politicize those events is even more shameful."


- Criticism from opposition leader

Earlier, opposition leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday blamed the government led by Prime Minister NarendraModi for the crisis in Manipur, which is witnessing deadly ethnic clashes since May.

Gandhi, who spoke during a debate on the no-confidence motion in the parliament against the government, also criticized Premier Modi for not visiting Manipur and alleged that he does not consider the state to be part of India.

“I went to Manipur a few days ago. Our prime minister has not gone there, because he does not consider Manipur part of India,” he said, adding: "I used the word Manipur, but today's reality is that there is no Manipur left. You have divided Manipur into two parts, you have broken the Manipur.”

The senior leader also quoted a woman who told him in Manipur that her "child was shot before my eyes."

Gandhi, who returned to parliament this week after his parliament membership was reinstated following a Supreme Court order, blamed the ruling party which “murdered Hindustan (India)” in Manipur.

He also said that the Indian army can bring peace to Manipur in a day, but the government is not deploying it.

The opposition leader also lashed out at the ruling party for the recent violence in the northern Haryana state.

“You have sprinkled kerosene everywhere. You have set fire to Manipur. You are now trying the same thing in Haryana,” he said.

While the speech was going on, the treasury benches started protesting against Gandhi.

Indian Minister for Earth Sciences Kiren Rijiju said the Congress leader should apologize for his remarks, adding that the Congress party is responsible for insurgency and other problems in the northeast.

The Indian parliament began debating Tuesday a no-confidence motion that opposition parties have brought against the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Last month, the Lok Sabha – the lower house of parliament – admitted the motion, brought in by India's newly formed opposition alliance against the government.

While the Indian ruling party led by Bharatiya Janata Party has the numbers in the parliament to survive the vote, opposition leaders maintain that the debate will force Modi to speak on the ongoing ethnic clashes in the northeastern state of Manipur.

Lawmakers in the lower house will likely vote on the motion on Thursday after the debate.

Since the start of the ongoing parliament session last month, it has witnessed regular disruptions as the opposition parties continue to demand a statement from the prime minister over the Manipur issues.

Modi spoke about the Manipur issue when the video went viral, calling the mob assault a shameful incident.

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