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Imphal, October 3, 2023: The political landscape in Manipur appears to be undergoing a significant shift with the emergence of a strong anti-Biren, anti-BJP sentiment among the Meitei community. Recent developments, including the presence of several Meitei MLAs in Delhi and a visit by a radical Meitei group known as the “Youths of Manipur” (YoM) to the national capital, have shed light on growing divisions within the Meitei society.
One of the most prominent indicators of this division was the rioting incidents that occurred in the Imphal Valley in recent weeks. During these disturbances, passionate messages were sent by Meitei rioters, calling for the resignation of Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh. Effigies of the Chief Minister, who has been criticized as populist and authoritarian, were set ablaze, and his residence was targeted by violent Meitei mobs.
Last week, the “Youths of Manipur” (YoM), a radical Meitei group, traveled to Delhi and met with 38 Meitei MLAs who were seeking an audience with the Prime Minister. The meeting, however, took a heated turn and almost escalated into violence. Manipur Minister L. Susindro Meitei faced an attempted assault by a member of the YoM during the confrontation.
According to a press release from the Department of Information and Public Relations (DPIR) dated September 30, the YoM presented several demands during the meeting. These demands included the replacement of Chief Minister Biren Singh with another Meitei leader and the formation of a regional party. While these demands were met with opposition, both sides did agree to oppose the demand for Separate Administration by the Zo ethnic tribes and to work towards ending the violence in Manipur through security measures. They also sought a meeting with the Prime Minister of India.
In response to the growing dissent, Manipur’s Cabinet Minister L. Susindro Meitei categorically rejected the demand for changing the Chief Minister. Speaking to reporters at the Imphal airport after returning from Delhi, Minister L. Susindro stated, “I am getting ready to boycott any meeting to be arranged by the YoM concerning the issue of changing the chief minister of Manipur.”
Additionally, Minister L. Susindro raised concerns about the proposal to form a regional party during these turbulent times. He argued that creating a new party at this juncture could invite the imposition of President’s Rule in Manipur, emphasizing the urgent need to restore peace in the strife-torn state.
The “Youths of Manipur” (YoM) came into existence on September 4, 2023, as thousands of youths from non-tribal communities in Manipur gathered at the Khongman Zone-IV social welfare club ground in Imphal East district. Their primary goals include preserving Manipur’s territorial integrity and restoring peace and normalcy in the state.
This recent meeting in Delhi marked the third encounter between YoM representatives and MLAs elected from valley districts, highlighting the intensity of the ongoing debate within the Meitei community.
As these developments unfold, Manipur finds itself at a crossroads, with political tensions running high, and the future remains uncertain amid calls for change and a quest for stability and peace in the region.