Soon after his arrival in Manipur's Imphal on Monday, 29 May, Union Home Minister Amit Shah proceeded to the Chief Minister's Secretariat for a closed-door meeting.
Apart from Chief Minister N Biren Singh and his council of ministers, the meeting – which went on from 9.40 pm to 10.45 pm – was attended by Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, and Director of Intelligence Bureau Tapan Kumar Deka, among others.
That was the first of the several rounds of security review meetings scheduled during Shah's four-day visit to assess the ongoing crisis in Manipur.
The state has been witnessing a fresh spell of violence with multiple cases of firing, vandalism, and arson being reported from various places. At least two deaths, including that of a policeman, have been reported since Sunday, 28 May, besides injuries to dozens of people.
What Is on the Agenda?
"The primary focus will be to restore normalcy and bring peace to the state at the earliest. The Central and the state governments will work together to ensure stability and security for the people of Manipur," said a Manipuri government official.
One of the ways of doing this is by bringing together the Meiteis and Kukis for a discussion over ways to resolve the situation – and persuading them to "lay down arms," a senior home ministry official told The Indian Express.
A home ministry official told the newspaper that "the communities will be assured of safety and asked to lay down arms so that a conducive atmosphere can be prepared to resolve things through talks."
The official added that Kukis are already in talks with the government for a peace pact, adding that "some of their demands for autonomy in certain areas will be considered."
Additionally, the government will install telephone lines in collaboration Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to "counter misinformation and rumors."
Reportedly, Shah also aims to expedite relief measures to those affected by the crisis. "Essential items such as petrol, LPG gas, rice, and other daily necessities will be made readily available," a Manipuri official informed.
Day 2 of Amit Shah's Visit
Shah met members of the civil society organisations and a group of women leaders on the second day of his visit on Tuesday, 30 May.
Taking to Twitter, Shah wrote he had a "fruitful discussion" with the members of different civil society organisations in Imphal. “They expressed their commitment to peace and assured that we would together contribute to paving the way to restore normalcy in Manipur,” he added.
In another tweet, he shared, "Held a meeting with a group of women leaders (Meira Paibi) in Manipur. Reiterated the significance of the role of women in the society of Manipur. Together, we are committed to ensuring peace and prosperity in the state."
Right after his meetings in Imphal, Shah went to the Churachandpur district (which was the epicentre of the clashes), where he met church leaders and prominent intellectuals from the Kuki community to understand their grievances and work on a way forward.
The home minister is also likely to visit hospitals to meet the injured in recent violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities.
Earlier in the day, the Centre had announced compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin of those who died amid the ethnic violence in the state. The amount of compensation will be borne equally by the Centre and the state.
One family member of the deceased persons will also be given a job, news agency PTI reported, quoting officials.
'We Are for the Unity of Manipur'
In response to Shah's visit, the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), a Meitei outfit, said in a statement that it was a positive step towards restoring peace in the state.
"We are speaking for everyone, including the Kukis. We are for the unity of Manipur but we are against the Kuki militants. We are likely to meet the Home Minister on Tuesday," Jeetendra Nimgonba, coordinator, COCOMI, said.
The United People's Front (UPF) and Kuki National Organisation (KNO) – Kuki militant organisations that are in a Suspension of Operations deal with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Manipur government – welcomed Shah's visit, and said it has given a sense of security among the Kuki-Zo tribe.
"We look forward to his actions and directions to end this ongoing ethnic clash between the two communities... We appeal to the Kuki-Zo population to maintain peace and wait for the outcome of his peace mission to the State," their statement read.