The Supreme Court on Friday is likely to discuss the action taken over a video that showed two women being paraded on the streets by a mob as it hears five petitions linked to the Manipur violence.
Petitions pertaining to the situation in the northeastern state have been heard several times by the court between May 8 and July 17 – it took suo motu cognisance of the video on July 20. Most of these petitions, being heard by a bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, Justices P S Narasimha and Manoj Misra, have alleged a bias in the state machinery as the reason behind the state’s failure to restore normalcy in the northeastern state.
Among their key demands are the court’s urgent intervention for a fair and independent probe, restoration of mobile services, overhaul of a crumbling health infrastructure, and the quashing of the controversial high court order which suggested the Biren Singh government in Manipur to consider Scheduled Tribe status for the Meitei community.
Let’s take a look at the petitions.
Tribals attacked by ‘BJP-backed groups’
The first two petitions were filed on May 6.
BJP MLA Dinganglung Gangmei had approached the Supreme Court against the Manipur High Court order recommending the state government to consider Schedule Tribe status for the Meiteis. His petition has been listed five times so far.
Another petition was filed on May 6 by Manipur Tribal Forum Delhi, an unregistered forum formed in 2015 by tribals living in the national capital region. It claimed that armed outfits Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun are attempting an “ethnic cleansing” of Kukis in the state.
It has demanded the evacuation of tribals from relief camps and affected areas, central security for areas inhabited by tribals, and the formation of an SIT, led by former Assam DGP Harekrishna Deka and monitored by Chief Justice Tinlianthang Vaiphei, to probe attacks by the Meitei community.
The petition alleged that the tribal community in Manipur is being attacked with “full support” of the BJP. It claimed that 227 churches have been targeted, 58 tribal villages destroyed, five tribal judicial officers attacked, and illegal searches being carried out by members of the “dominant community”. It alleged that 30 tribals have been killed and the police are not probing the matter while siding with the culprits.
The petitioners attached pictures of Korounganba Khuman, the self-styled commander of Arambai Tenggol, with Manipur CM Biren Singh and BJP MP Leisehmba Sanajaoba. They alleged that Meitei Leepun leader M Pramot had admitted he was an ABVP member.
They also claimed that tribal leader David Thiek Hmar was murdered on July 2 in Churachandpur and his head fixed to a fence by the PRO of a BJP MLA.
‘No faith’ in state government
The third petition was filed on May 8 by students’ outfit Zomi Students Federation. The petitioners have claimed that they “no longer have faith” in the state’s handling of the situation in a “fair and transparent” manner.
The petition has demanded that a retired Supreme Court judge should oversee relief and rehabilitation measures, and the central government should form peace committees comprising members of both the communities. It has also sought the court’s urgent intervention to identify unclaimed bodies, trace missing individuals, fill the shortage of doctors, medicines, and health equipment, and restoration of Jio and Vodafone services.
The petition mentions several alleged instances of CM Biren Singh accusing the Christian tribal population of violence and promoting drugs. It alleged that CM, in an to RSS mouthpiece Organiser, said that “indigenous people of the state have been reduced to the status of second class citizens after foreign Kuki immigrants have taken control of the social, political and economic affairs of the native tribal people of the state.” It claimed that he also retweeted a post which referred to the Kuki-Chin community as “outsiders” and “rioters”.
This petition has been listed four times so far.
The fourth petition was filed by the Manipur High Court Bar Association on May 15. It has been listed four times so far. The petition sought a judicial probe by a committee headed by two retired Supreme Court judges into the alleged nexus between the state machinery and armed groups, and the “preplanned” violence on May 3 during a solidarity march at Churachandpur.
The fifth petition was filed by Global Meetei Foundation, a private outfit which claims to work for Meitei unity, on May 16, and has been listed four times. It demanded urgent relief and evacuation of hundreds of Meiteis stranded in Manipur and Myanmar, and to secure the international border with Myanmar to prevent the influx of Kuki militants. It has also sought a court-monitored SIT to probe whether the violence in Churachandpur which sparked the crisis in Manipur was linked to the state’s “war on drugs”.
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