India objects to European Parliament debating on Manipur violence

The Manipur situation is totally internal to India, says Foreign Secretary

The Manipur situation is totally internal to India, says Foreign Secretary
The Manipur situation is totally internal to India, says Foreign Secretary

On European Parliament’s Manipur violence debate, India says ‘internal matter’

India on Wednesday said the recent violent incidents in Manipur are an internal matter as the European Parliament is set to debate the issue at a session in Strasbourg, France. This assertion came as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is about to arrive in Paris on Thursday. Six parliamentary groups have submitted motions for an urgent debate on the Manipur situation at a plenary session in Strasbourg during July 10-13.

The six parliamentary groups, with members drawn from leftist, right, center-right, conservative, and Christian groups, have submitted motions for an urgent debate on the situation in Manipur at a plenary session in Strasbourg during July 10-13. The motions seek a European Parliament resolution on the theme “India, the situation in Manipur”. The debate is expected to be held on Wednesday and will be followed by a vote on the proposed resolution.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said in New Delhi on Wednesday “On the Manipur question, this is a matter totally internal to India.”He added, “We are aware of what [is happening in the European Parliament] and we have made a reach out to the concerned EU parliamentarians but we have made it very clear to them this is a matter totally and absolutely internal to India.” Kwatra did not respond to a query on whether India has engaged the political lobbying agency Alber and Geiger to persuade the European parliamentarians to withdraw their motions.

According to reports in the media in Manipur, Alber, and Geiger had written to members of the European Parliament, asking them not to include their motions in the agenda for the current plenary session. The letter referred to negotiations between the European Union (EU) and India and said “India should not be prevented from explaining its position in such a situation”. The letter further said the Indian government is “working incessantly in order to mitigate the conflict” and has formed a Peace Committee in Manipur.

Clashes between Manipur’s mostly Hindu Meitei majority and the Christian Kuki minority, which began in early May, have killed more than 130 people and displaced tens of thousands. Groups have looted weapons from police armouries and sporadic armed clashes continue to be reported from the northeastern state bordering Myanmar. Similar motions have been submitted in the European Parliament by the Left Group, Verts/ALE Group, S&D Group, Renew Group, ECR Group, and PPE Group for the debate. All the motions refer to the ongoing violence and the role of security agencies in efforts to control the violence.

The parliamentarians sought the debate under provisions allowing urgent discussions on topical subjects, third-country political situations, local and regional conflicts, fundamental freedoms, human rights, and democracy. The motions also refer to the genesis of the situation, including the high court order directing the Manipur government to recommend to the Union tribal affairs ministry that the Meiteis be granted Scheduled Tribe status.

The PPE Group’s motion, for instance, states that “churches belonging to Meitei Christians, theological institutions, Christian schools, and hospitals as well as several temples” were destroyed. It also refers to the snapping of internet services by the authorities.

The PPE Group’s motion “urges the Indian authorities to continue to employ all necessary measures and exert utmost efforts to promptly halt the ongoing ethnic and religious violence…and to pre-empt any further escalation”. It also calls for a thorough investigation into the underlying causes of the violence.

The S&D Group’s motion notes that the European Union (EU) and India are committed to protecting human rights and that Manipur has “previously faced secessionist insurgencies in which serious human rights abuses were committed”.

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