@ Vikash Sharma | Sr Journalist
As a Home Minister, Amit Shah is poles apart from his predecessors. Rather than sitting in his comfort zone, Shah has made it a habit of taking any conflict head-on and leading from the front – be it in Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir or lately in Manipur.
Soon as the Manipur violence broke out, resulting from an “obnoxious” single-bench Manipur High Court order, between two communities, the Home Minister plunged into action initially from Delhi, skipping important election rallies in poll-bound Karnataka. As the tension refused to defuse, Shah embarked on a four-day visit to the state, defying all odds. And, as expected, peace gets restored during his stay in the conflict-hit Manipur.
Immediately after landing on Monday evening in Manipur, Shah met with Chief Minister N Biren Singh, senior members of the state cabinet and senior security officers to understand the gravity of the matter.
Spending a nearly sleepless night, he set out the very next morning to hold wide-ranging discussions with over a dozen civil society organisations, met delegations of Forum for Restoration of Peace, student organisations and also one of the Women leaders (Meira Paibis) in Imphal, while reiterating Centre’s commitment to restoring peace in the state.
Before leaving for Churachandpur, the centre of the conflict, Shah interacted with a group of prominent personalities, intellectuals, retired Army officers and civil servants. Later in the evening, Shah held an all-party meeting in Imphal. Home Minister also reviewed the security situation with senior officials of the Manipur Police, CAPFs and the Indian Army. Stating that restoring the peace and prosperity of Manipur was the top priority of the government, he instructed officials to strictly deal with any activities that could disturb the peace.
On the third day of his visit to Manipur, Shah visited Moreh and Kangpokpi and had a discussion with civil society organisations. He met a delegation of the Hill tribal council, Kuki Students Organisation, Kuki Chiefs Association, Tamil Sangam, Gorkha Samaj and Manipuri Muslim council in Moreh. Shah also took briefings on security situations from senior officials. Shah also visited a relief camp in Imphal where the members of the Meitei community were residing. He left no community untouched.
Having faith in Shah, the central government entrusted the Home Minister with the delicate task of mediating with the warring communities. Shah is seen as the ray of hope in these trying circumstances. There are instances galore of Shah’s such acts in the past. Representatives of both sides also showed trust in Shah, who successfully changed their outlook and views on the situation. Shah also addressed their concerns on livelihood and security. Even under these circumstances finer issues like education, court etc did not miss Shah’s people-oriented administrative skill.
While during his stay, his focus was on restoring peace and ensuring prosperity to the state through discussion with various sections of the society and the administration; on the last day of his tour, he gave a stern warning to the miscreants, announcing the commencement of combing operations in the violence-affected regions of the state and warned strict action against those who violate the Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement.
“Those carrying weapons must surrender before the police. Combing operations will start tomorrow and if weapons are found with anyone, strict actions will be taken,” Shah said at a press conference on Thursday.
Shah also announced the formation of a probe committee, headed by a retired judge, by the Central government to investigate incidents of violence and revealed that a special team from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will be assigned to investigate the cases of violence in Manipur.
A peace committee headed by the Governor will be formed. Investigations are to be carried out without bias and discrimination. The guilty will be punished.
Appropriate steps will be taken to help the students. Family members of those deceased will be given Rs 10 lakh as compensation. Special medical officers will ensure medical facilities in areas hit by violence.