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MHA forms judicial panel to probe Manipur violence; Amit Shah appeals for lifting blockades

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The other two members in the panel included retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Himanshu Shekhar Das and retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Aloka Prabhakar. “… in exercise of the powers conferred by section 3 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 (60 of 1952), the Central Government hereby appoint a Commission of Inquiry consisting of – Ajai Lamba, former chief justice of Gauhati high court (as chairperson), Das and Prabhakar”, said a notification issued by MHA on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Union home minister Amit Shah on Sunday appealed to the people to lift blockades at the Imphal-Dimapur national highway (NH-2) for movement of essentials.

Manipur has been roiled by ethnic violence since May 3, with the bulk of the clashes between the Meitei community, which constitutes the majority of the state’s population and lives largely in Imphal, and the Kukis, who comprise 16% of the state and live largely in the hill districts. At least 98 people have died and nearly 40,000 displaced.

The judicial panel, which will be headquartered at Imphal, has been asked to submit its report “as soon as possible” but not later than six months, according to the notification. If it deems fit, the Commission can submit interim reports to the Centre. People familiar with the development said the decision to form a judicial inquiry panel was taken on the recommendation of Manipur government, which made the suggestion on May 29.

The Commission, the notification said, will make inquiry with respect to – “the causes and spread of the violence and riots targeting members of different communities, which took place in Manipur on May 3 and thereafter”, “the sequence of events leading to, and all the facts relating to such violence”, “whether there were any lapses or dereliction of duty in this regard on the part of any of the responsible authorities/individuals”, “the adequacy of the administrative measures taken to prevent, and to deal with the said violence and riots”, and “to consider such matters as may be found relevant in the course of inquiry”.

The inquiry by the Commission will also look into – “complaints or allegations that may be made before the Commission by any individual, or association, in such form and accompanied by such affidavits, as may be specified by the Commission”, and instances related to causes, lapses etc brought to its notice by the Manipur government.

“The state police and administration will support the panel in its probe,” said an officer, who didn’t want to be named.

Amit Shah on Sunday tweeted, “My sincerest appeal to the people of Manipur is to lift the blockades at the Imphal-Dimapur, NH-2 Highway, so that food, medicines, Petrol/Diesel, and other necessary items can reach the people. I also request that civil society organisations do the needful in bringing consensus,”

Amit Shah recently concluded a four-day visit to Manipur and held talks with various stakeholders including Meiteis and Kukis, local administration, state police and civil society members. He even appealed to people to surrender all the looted weapons, after which over 700 weapons out of 4,000 were recovered.

The security advisor to Manipur government Kuldiep Singh said on Saturday that peace was returning in the state.

The clashes erupted during a protest against a court-ordered tweak to the state’s reservation matrix, granting scheduled tribe (ST) status to the Meitei community. Violence quickly engulfed the state, displacing tens of thousands of people who fled burning homes and neighbourhoods into jungles, often across state borders.

MHA forms judicial panel to probe Manipur violence; Amit Shah appeals for lifting blockades

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