War of words breaks out between Congressand BJP as Rahul Gandhi lands in Manipur 


Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with party General Secretary incharge (Organization) KC Venugopal and Manipur Congress Chief Keisham Meghachandra Singh as his convoy was stopped by the police, in Bishnupur on Thursday (ANI)

Police use several rounds of tear gas shells to stop and disperse a crowd that gathers near the regional office of BJP in Imphal in Manipur on Thursday

Our Bureau
Imphal/New Delhi

Rahul Gandhi landed in Imphal earlier on Thursday but he was forced to make his way back to the State capital a short while later after local police prevented his carcade from proceeding to Churachandpur, where the Congress leader was headed to meet with victims of ethnic violence.

The Congress leader’s convoy was stopped at a checkpost near Bishnupur, which is about 20 kilometres from Imphal. Police, party workers and locals staged a protest and later, police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

“Seeing the ongoing situation in the State, we have stopped the VIPs from proceeding. They can go to places wherever they want by helicopter. If the police actions have been taken otherwise, it is not our problem,” a police official said.

K Meghachandra, Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee President has accused the Manipur government of “politicizing” Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the state.

Ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur nearly two months ago on May 3 after clashes erupted during a rally organized by the All-Tribal Students Union (ATSU) to protest against the demand for the inclusion of Meiteis in the list of Scheduled Tribes (STs).

Manipur Pradesh Congress President on Thursday said there was complete failure of the law and order in the State where normalcy has not yet been restored and pointed that the “double-engine government has become the triple-problem.”

Keisham Meghachandra Singh, President of Manipur Pradesh Congress, said: “The present situation is that normalcy has still not been established in Manipur. The double-engine government has not been able to control the situation here. We do not have any expectations from Union Home Minister Amit Shah and chief minister N Biren Singh. There is a complete failure of law and order.” BJP has however said that the visit by the Congress leader is merely political opportunism.

But BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya in a tweet said that Rahul Gandhi is “no messiah of peace just a political opportunist, who wants to keep the pot boiling.”

“Not once did Rahul Gandhi visit Churachandpur in Manipur between 2015-17, to meet the victims of ethnic violence, that raged following Congress CM Okram Ibobi Singh Govt’s decision to pass three Bills – the Protection of Manipur People’s Bill, 2015, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015, and Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015, which were seen by the people of Churachandpur district, comprising mostly of Paites and Kukis, as ‘anti-Tribal’, and a ‘conspiracy’ by the majority Meitei community to grab Tribal land,” the tweet read.

Malviya said that nine young men were shot dead and the protesting communities refused to cremate them for two long years. “Why didn’t Rahul Gandhi visit Manipur then? He is no messiah of peace just a political opportunist who wants to keep the pot boiling. His visit to Manipur is not borne out of concern for people but his own selfish political agenda. There is a reason no one trusts either him or the Congress,” Malviya alleged.

Meanwhile, a crowd gathered near the regional office of BJP in Imphal in Manipur on Thursday. Police used several rounds of tear gas shells to stop and disperse them.

Visuals from the spot showed police using tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh met Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday in Delhi and expressed his government’s commitment to maintaining peace and restoring normalcy in the state. Singh briefed the Home Minister on the situation in Manipur.

The Centre also held an all-party meeting on the Manipur situation on Saturday.

The state has been seeing sporadic incidents of violence. Amit Shah visited the state following ethnic violence and announced a series of measures for restoring peace.

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