Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh claimed on Tuesday that Myanmar immigrants are responsible for deforestation, poppy cultivation, and drugs menace in the state.
In a series of social media posts, the Chief Minister said that the state government will continue to give utmost priority to the protection of Manipur and its entire indigenous people.
“To protect the state, the government has launched a green Manipur campaign, identified the occupied reserve forest lands, promoted fruits and vegetables farming and destroyed all the hidden poppy fields. The drive against narcotics is now in full swing,” Singh said.
The Chief Minister’s assertion is significant as incidents of violence, including arsoning and vandalisation of government properties, were triggered last week after the tribals launched fresh protests against the state government’s action against illegal poppy cultivation by destroying poppy fields in the forest land, especially in the reserve and protected forests in the hilly areas.
Attaching photographs of two arrested drug peddlers, the Chief Minister tweeted: “These are the people who are destroying our generation. They are destroying our natural forests to plant poppy, and further igniting communal issues to carry out their drugs smuggling business.”
A police officer said that a team from the Singnhat police station arrested the two persons, who were travelling on a Chinese Kenbo bike at Zaupi Camp and recovered 16 kg opium hidden in a gunny bag from their possession.
The arrested persons, Thangbiaklun Guite (40) and Nangkhenmang Munluah (42), both residents of Churachandpur district, are now being interrogated by the police, the officer said.
Meanwhile, night curfew continued for the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday in Manipur’s Churachandpur district even as no fresh incidents of violence have been reported from the mountainous district in the last 72 hours.
A police officer said that as part of a precautionary measure, the district administration has decided to continue the night curfew until further orders.
In another development, the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur (ATSUM) has given a call to hold a “tribal solidarity march” in all hill district headquarters of the state on Wednesday, opposing a demand to include the majority Meitei community into the Scheduled Tribe list of the Indian Constitution.
Different tribal bodies, including the Naga Students Union Chandel, Sadar Hills Tribal Union on Land and Forests, Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong, and Tribal Churches Leaders Forum announced their support for the “tribal solidarity march”.
The ATSUM said in a statement that the rally will be organised to express protest against “the persistent demand of the Meitei community for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe category” and “the need for taking appropriate measures to collectively protect the tribal interests”.
Tribals inhabiting the mountainous areas are mostly Christians by faith and account for more than 40 per cent of the state’s population.
Protesting against the state government’s action to evict tribals from the forest lands and destruction of illegal poppy cultivation in the reserve and protected forests, the tribals had on March 10 organised protest rallies in three districts — Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal, during which five people were injured.
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)