India rejects UN experts’ claims on Manipur, asserts peaceful situation

India has dismissed the comments made by UN experts concerning Manipur, labeling them as “unwarranted, presumptive, and misleading.” India maintains that the state of affairs in the northeastern...

India has dismissed the comments made by UN experts concerning Manipur, labeling them as “unwarranted, presumptive, and misleading.” India maintains that the state of affairs in the northeastern state of Manipur remains peaceful.

In a diplomatic communication issued on Monday to the Special Procedures Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Indian mission emphasized the peaceful and stable conditions in Manipur.

According to reports, the communication stated, “The Government is also committed to protecting the human rights of the people of India, including the people of Manipur.” The Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva categorically rejected the news release, characterising it not only as unwarranted, presumptive, and misleading but also as a reflection of a lack of understanding regarding the situation in Manipur and the steps taken by the Government of India to address it.

India’s response came following concerns raised by a group of UN experts regarding “serious human rights violations and abuses” in Manipur. These alleged violations encompassed reports of sexual violence, extrajudicial killings, destruction of homes, forced displacement, torture, and ill-treatment.

The Permanent Mission of India expressed disappointment and surprise that the Special Procedure Mandate Holders (SPMH) issued the press release without waiting for the 60-day period for the Indian government to respond to a joint communication issued on the same topic on August 29, 2023.

The Indian mission reiterated that India is a democratic nation committed to the rule of law and the protection of human rights. It emphasized that Indian law enforcement authorities and security forces adhere strictly to the principles of legal certainty, necessity, proportionality, and non-discrimination.

In their news release, the UN experts expressed their dismay at reports and images depicting gender-based violence directed at women and girls, particularly from the Kuki ethnic minority, in Manipur. These alleged acts of violence included gang rape, public humiliation, fatal beatings, and burning incidents, both alive and postmortem.

The experts also highlighted concerns about the inadequate humanitarian response to the grave situation in Manipur following a community conflict between the predominantly Hindu Meitei and the predominantly Christian Kuki ethnic communities that erupted in May 2023.

Biren Singh files FIR against Editors Guild of India members 

Manipur’s Chief Minister, N. Biren Singh, has confirmed that his government has lodged a First Information Report (FIR) against four members of the Editors Guild of India (EGI) in response to a report they published concerning clashes in the state. Addressing the media, CM Singh stated that the FIR was filed on the grounds of alleged attempts to “incite further conflicts within the state.”

Singh expressed the belief that the fact-finding committee members from EGI failed to engage with representatives from both affected communities and subsequently arrived at an inaccurate conclusion. The FIR was formally registered at the Imphal police station based on a complaint filed by a concerned social worker.

According to a report, within the FIR, it was asserted that the EGI report featured a photograph of a burnt structure, accompanied by a caption suggesting it was a Kuki residence that had been set on fire on May 5.

The FIR contends, “The true fact of the case is that the building is the office of a forest beat officer at Mata Mualtam Village, Churachandpur.”

The EGI issued a clarification, acknowledging an error in a photo caption from the report released on September 2. They expressed regret, stating, “We regret the error that crept in at the photo editing stage.”

The complainant asserted that the report was false, fabricated, and sponsored on various fronts.

EGI explained that they had formed a three-member committee, visiting Manipur from August 7 to 10, in response to concerns about media bias in the ethnic conflict involving the Meitei and Kuki-Chin communities. They also received a complaint from the Army’s 3rd Corp headquarters on July 12, 2023, raising concerns about the Manipur media’s role in fueling tensions.

The EGI report highlighted the complexity of the media’s role in the context of the violence, emphasising that journalists were under extreme pressure to reflect their ethnic communities’ dominant views, exacerbated by an internet ban, a vital tool for modern journalism. It also noted that the “ethnic divide in the media” led to one-sided reporting during the violence, with Meitei media seemingly vilifying the security forces, especially the Assam Rifles.

Manipur Chief Minister Singh reacted, accusing EGI members of being “anti-State, anti-national, and anti-establishment.” He asserted that they had not visited the affected areas and had drawn conclusions without understanding the ground reality.

Singh refuted claims of one-sided eviction, stating that the process began in 2015, involving houses from various communities for the general public’s welfare. He also questioned the silence surrounding individuals who had aided the victims and emphasized ongoing investigations by several committees appointed by the Supreme Court and the Central government.

EGI members face charges under various IPC sections, including promoting enmity between communities, using false declarations as true, intending to wound religious feelings, and criminal defamation.

The violence, erupting on May 3 and causing over 160 deaths and 50,000 displacements, stemmed from a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ protesting a High Court order considering the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe list.

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