Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Monday condemned in the strongest terms the report of the fact-finding team of the Editors Guild of India (EGI), led by its president and three members, on the media reports of the current Manipur violence.
Biren told the media at Durbar Hall, CM Secretariat at Babupara on Monday that an FIR has been lodged against the three-member fact-finding team of EGI along with its president for adding fuel to the turmoil with their fabricated report.
The FIR was lodged at Imphal Police Station on Sunday against three members of the fact-finding team of EGI, viz., Seema Guha, Sanjay Kapoor, Bharat Bhushan, and the president of EGI.
The case was lodged on charges of promoting enmity between different groups, using as true such a declaration knowing it to be false, injuring or defiling places of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class, uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person, statements conducing to public mischief, statements conducing to public mischief that publish or circulate any statement, rumour, or report with intent to cause or likely to cause fear or alarm to the public, statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred, or ill-will between classes, defamation with criminal conspiracy.
Recently, the three-member team of EGI came to Manipur for 4 days in August for fact finding on media reports in connection with the present crisis that has been continuing since May 3.
Stating that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had already highlighted the root cause of the present turmoil on the Parliamentary floor, the CM urged not commenting or coming to conclusions on the present turmoil in the state before investigations are completed. He also said one must not blindly comment on Manipur if they do not know the history of the state.
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Recently, another three-member team claiming to be a fact finding team on the present crisis charged that the present crisis is state-sponsored, he added.
He said that based on the complexity of the present turmoil, EGI should send members who are neutral and balanced.
The Chief Minister repeated that the state government condemned the report of the EGI in the strongest terms.
Biren further said that the Editors Guild's acting in a sub-judice manner and as if trying to further fuel the crisis when various committees led by retired Chief Justices under the supervision of the Supreme Court and the Central government have already initiated their investigations to find the root cause of the issue, is strongly condemned.
“Do the members of the team have proper knowledge of the North East, the history of Manipur, and the complexity of the present situation, and how can they come to a conclusion without any background knowledge?” Biren questioned, adding that before commenting on the crisis, they should understand the background of the crisis, how it happened and began, and allow the investigations of the various committees to be complete.
The chief minister also picked up a few faults in the report and questioned how they could call themselves editors. He said that it is shameful that such members who don’t understand the Indian Forest Act came as a fact-finding team.
He added that it is unfortunate that they have claimed that eviction was carried out against only one community and explained that between 2015 and 2023, altogether 413 houses were evicted from Reserved Forest (Protected Forest) areas for the welfare of the general public to protect from poppy plantation and global warming.
The 413 houses include only 59 houses of Kuki community, 143 Meitei houses, 137 Meitei Pangal houses, 38 Naga houses, and 36 Nepali houses, he added.
Biren said they are anti-establishments and came to spread communal venom to further fuel the crisis. They should have first sought proof and evidence, he said, adding that both communities are victims and should be treated and consoled equally.
The chief minister also said that the state government also strongly condemned the heinous act where two women were paraded naked at Nongpok Sekmai. However, human rights violations are also witnessed in other parts of the country, including Rajasthan, where a pregnant woman was forcefully stripped and paraded naked. Similar incidents also occurred in West Bengal, he said, and he questioned why the EGI was silent on those issues.
He said the issues of Manipur, where two women were paraded naked, were highlighted across the country; however, nobody cared to highlight that Meitei women saved those women, clothed them, and sent them to safe places.
Biren said the state government’s main objective is to safeguard Manipur and urged all the people that the silence of the government does not mean that the government is not active. Necessary action will be taken for every illegal activity, he stated.
The Chief Minister said there are certain media reports that state that people from the Tamil community who could not pay extortion money have been asked to leave Moreh, and a certain spokesperson of the Kuki Inpi stated that Meiteis will not be allowed into Moreh town without a solution.
The Chief Minister warned against such statements and said the government has been maintaining restraint, not wanting to escalate the crisis and in order to control the violence. An FIR has been lodged to nab the said person and his accomplices, he added.
Biren said there is a government and Moreh is a part of Manipur, and because this is a communal clash, the government is not taking hard action against both communities in order to control the situation. However, any individual or group should not try to escalate the present turmoil, he cautioned.
Responding to the media, he said the collection of biometric details has already begun and the central government has instructed completion of the collection by September. However, the state government has urged the central government for a time extension of a year to complete the task as there are many villages to cover in far flung areas of Manipur, he added.
Works Minister K Govindas, Health Minister S Ranjan, Law and Order Minister Th Basanta Kumar, and MLA Kh Joykisan also attended the press conference.