Manipur violence: “Don’t use this platform to escalate further situation…” says Supreme Court

New Delhi [India] : The Supreme Court on Monday cautioned the counsels representing the Meitei and Kuki groups to refrain from levelling allegations and using the court as a platform to escalate the volatile situation in Manipur.

The cautionary remarks of the apex court came after senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the Kuki group, made repeated attempts to claim that the violence against the Kuki community was state-sponsored. “We do not want these proceedings to be used as a platform for further escalations of violence and other problems. We must be conscious that we are not running security or law and order.

This is a humanitarian issue and needs to be looked at from that angle,” said a bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha while intervening Gonsalves.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Manipur government, said the matter may be taken up by petitioners with utmost sensitivity as any misinformation can aggravate the situation.

As Gonsalves kept on submitting that there has been a serious escalation in the Manipur situation and the narrative is against Kuki tribals, CJI Chandrachud said, “Your scepticism cannot lead us to take over the law and order.”

The bench further asked Gonsalves and other advocates appearing for the Meitei group to give constructive suggestions on the fresh affidavit filed by the State government on measures taken for relief and curb violence in the State.
The bench posted the matter for hearing on July 11.

The bench also enquired from Solicitor General Tushar Mehta about the seizure of weapons from police stations and asked for an update on actions taken in this regard. It directed the Chief Secretary of Manipur was directed to file a status report.

It further asked both the Centre and State governments to consider a plea made by the Manipur High Court Bar Association, which requested that a 10-kilometre stretch of a crucial National Highway, serving as the only lifeline for essential supplies, should be kept clear for reaching essential commodities to the State resident.

Manipur government in its affidavit stated that as per the police report, around 5,995 FIRs have been registered as of July 4 and are being investigated in connection with different allegations, mishappenings and offences that happened during the ongoing crises.

“Six important FIRs had been transferred to CBI for investigation independently and with transparency,” the affidavit said.
Furthermore, illegal bunkers constructed by miscreants, which have been a cause of concern for society in both hills and valleys are being dismantled by the security forces, it said.

“It is stated that security cover for undertaking agriculture and for escorting essential items from Jiribam at Imphal has been deployed. In general, curfew relaxation hours are being enhanced across the state keeping in view the local conditions,” the affidavit said.

“Security deployment is being planned, implemented and reviewed on a daily basis by the Security Advisor to the Government of Manipur. In this regard, the State Police is spearheading the efforts ot bring normalcy to the State under the leadership of the newly appointed Director General of Police. Furthermore, standard operating procedures (SOP) have been put in place to deal with general area domination as well as to address any emergent situations,” it added.

On July 4,354 relief camps are operational in the affected areas with amenities and medical care made available for the convenience of the inmates. It is stated that more than 400 officers along with COs are involved in monitoring camp operations, the affidavit said further.

Earlier, the Supreme Court sought an updated status report from the State of Manipur regarding the present situation and measures taken to curb the violence in the State.

The top court seized the cases relating to the violence in Manipur and sought status reports from the Centre and State on the relief and rehabilitation efforts for the people affected by the violence between Meitei and Kuki communities.

Earlier, the top court expressed concern over the loss of lives and properties in Manipur during the violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities and stressed taking adequate measures to restore normalcy in the northeastern state.

On March 27, the High Court directed the State to consider the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes list.

The violence in Manipur between the Hindu Meiteis and the tribal Kuki, who are Christians, erupted after a rally by the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur (ATSUM) on May 3.

Violence has gripped the entire state for over a month now and the Central government had to deploy paramilitary forces to bring the situation under control.

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