IMPHAL: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has shed light on the ongoing efforts in Manipur aimed at restoring a sense of normalcy as a specialised team from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), headed by its Special Director, Ajay Bhatnagar, is scheduled to arrive in Imphal via a special flight today.
In his address at the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday, Jaishankar acknowledged the multifaceted challenges faced by Manipur, including the destabilizing impact of migrants who have migrated to the region. He also recognised that historical tensions predate these recent developments.
“…I think one part of the problem in Manipur has been the destabilising impact of migrants who have come,” stated the minister.
Furthermore, Jaishankar emphasised on the current focus on restoring normalcy, recovering seized arms, and enhancing law-and-order enforcement to prevent incidents of violence in the state.
Meanwhile, amidst growing tensions and public outcry, an elite CBI squad is expected to land in Imphal to investigate the alarming disappearance and suspected murder of two Meitei students, Phijam Hemjit (20) and Hijam Linthoingambi (17), who have been missing since July 6.
The CBI team will comprise of officers proficient in special crime, crime scene recreation, technical surveillance, and interrogation. Additionally, the team is bolstered by experts from the CBI’s elite Central Forensic Science Laboratory. Bhatnagar, who holds the position of the second-in-command within the CBI, is joined by Joint Director Ghanshyam Upadhyay, currently stationed in Imphal.
This rapid mobilisation from the CBI comes in the wake of the Manipur government’s decision to hand over the case to the premier agency.
Recent social media frenzy revolving around the circulation of the students’ images heightened tensions across the state, prompting mass protests in various regions of the Imphal valley. On Tuesday, law enforcement authorities employed tear gas and baton charges to disperse protesters, resulting in injuries to 45 students.
The situation took a grim turn when a harrowing photograph surfaced on Monday, showing the presumably deceased youths with Hemjit’s head missing.
Reacting to the escalating tensions and in a bid to control the spread of rumours, the Manipur government suspended mobile internet services for the upcoming five days and has shuttered all educational institutions until the end of the week.
It is essential to note that the CBI’s involvement in the ongoing sectarian strife in Manipur traces back to June 10 when the central agency re-registered six First Information Reports (FIRs) and established a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to delve into the criminal conspiracy surrounding the violence.
This decision followed Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s announcement of a CBI probe into six of the 3,700 FIRs linked to the violence during his visit to the state in early June. These cases encompass five related to “criminal conspiracy” and one tied to “general conspiracy” behind the clashes.
Additionally, on June 4, the Union government formed a three-member judicial inquiry panel to investigate the ethnic violence in Manipur, acting upon the state government’s recommendation.