Congress takes on Centre over US Ambassador Eric Garcetti’s comments on Manipur violence
The Congress on Friday raised strong objections to US Ambassador Eric Garcetti‘s making remarks on Manipur and asked the government if it would summon and tell him in no uncertain terms it is India’s internal matter and the United States has no role to play. Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said it is the responsibility of the Central and State governments to restore peace in Manipur, which has been gripped by deadly ethnic violence since May 3.
Speaking at a press conference in Kolkata on Thursday, Garcetti said the violence and killings in Manipur are a matter of “human concern” and the US is “ready to assist” India in dealing with the situation “if asked”. In a tweet, Jairam Ramesh targeted the government. “Will the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar summon the US Ambassador and tell him in no uncertain terms that the USA has no role whatsoever to play in Manipur,” he said. “The responsibility for bringing back peace and harmony in Manipur is that of the Union government, the state government, the civil society, and political parties in the state, especially,” he said.
“The Prime Minister Narendra Modi is silent and the Home Minister has been ineffective. That does not mean that there is any opening for any other country. This is an Indian challenge which we as Indians have to address sensitively and resolutely,” the Congress leader said.
Asked about Garcetti’s remarks during a media briefing on Thursday, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “I haven’t seen those comments by the US Ambassador, and if he has made them, we’ll see. I haven’t had a chance to see, maybe it just happened.”
“I think, you know…We would also (want to) see peace there, and I think that our agencies and our security forces are working, and our local government is working on it,” he said. “I’m not sure foreign diplomats would usually comment on internal developments in India, but I won’t like to make a comment without seeing exactly what is being said,” Bagchi said.
Congress spokesperson and party MP from Punjab Manish Tewari said he doubts if the new American envoy is cognisant of the “torturous history” of bilateral ties and India’s sensitivity about interference, perceived or real, in its internal affairs. “To the best of my recollection going back at least four decades in public life, I have never heard an US Ambassador making a statement of this nature about the internal affairs of India,” he said in a tweet.
“We faced challenges in Punjab, J&K, northeast over the decades and surmounted those with sagacity and wisdom,” the former Union Minister said. Even when Robin Raphel would be “loquacious” on Jammu and Kashmir in the 1990s, US ambassadors in India were circumspect, he said. Raphel is a former US diplomat who looked after South and Central Asian affairs.
“I doubt if the new @USAmbIndia @ericgarcetti is cognisant of the convoluted and torturous history of US-India relations and our sensitivity about interference perceived or real, well-intentioned or mal intentioned into our internal affairs,” the Congress MP said.
More than 100 people have lost their lives and over 3,000 injured since ethnic violence first broke out in Manipur on May 3 when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organized in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status. Around 40,000 central security personnel, besides the Manipur Police, have been deployed to control the violence and bring back normality in the state.
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