Manipur violence: SC refuses urgent hearing of a plea for Army deployment

“This is purely an issue of law-and-order situation. I hope court is not required to pass orders for army intervention. We will list the case on July 3, and not before that,” said the apex court.

Manipur violence: SC refuses urgent hearing of a plea for Army deployment

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined an urgent hearing of a plea by an NGO, Manipur Tribal Forum, seeking handing over to the Army the law-and-order situation in certain areas and villages inhabited by the Kuki tribe for their protection.

Refusing an urgent hearing and posting the plea by the Manipur Tribal Forum for hearing on July 3, a vacation bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice M M Sundresh said it is a law-and-order situation.

“This is purely an issue of law-and-order situation. I hope court is not required to pass orders for army intervention. We will list the case on July 3 and not before that” the vacation bench said today declining an early listing.


The Manipur violence that started in early May has witnessed scores of killings and displacement of thousands of people. The top court bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had on May 8 during the hearing of a plea on Manipur violence expressed concern over the loss of lives and property in Manipur during the violence between Meitei and Kuki communities.

Seeking a status report from the Centre and the State government as well on the steps being taken for the safety and the rehabilitation of displaced people including protection of religious places, Chief Justice Chandrachud had on May 8 said, “We are concerned very deeply about the loss of lives and properties” and what arrangements have been made to help the people including availability of food, and medical care, the bench said, describing it a “humanitarian issue”.

Urging the vacation bench to urgently hear the matter, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves said that tribals were being targeted by the communal groups in Manipur. Gonsalves said that the top court was the only hope of the tribals being killed and by the time matter is heard in July, there would be more incidents of violence and killings.

However, Manipur Tribal Forum’s plea was opposed by the Centre and the Manipur government as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench “Security agencies are on the ground and doing their best. Similar prayers were being made before the vacation. The court decided to hear it after reopening.

In the last hearing of the matter on May 17 before the summer vacation, the top court had sought a fresh status report on the security, relief and rehabilitation of the people affected by the violence.

Reminding the Manipur government that maintaining law and order was the responsibility of the State government, Chief Justice Chandrachud heading the bench had said on May 17, “We can’t say who is responsible for this… law and order is a state subject. We as the apex court can ensure they don’t turn a blind eye. We must as a court also understand that some matters are entrusted to the political arm (of the executive).”

Seeking handing over to the army, the control of Churachanpur, Chandel, Kangpokpi, Impal East and Imphal West, districts and all villages, largely inhabited by Kuki tribals, Manipur Tribal Forum has described as “empty” and “non serious” the Centre’s assurance on the security, relief and rehabilitation of the violence affected people in Manipur.

The Forum has alleged that the state government backed by the Centre have jointly embarked on a communal agenda for the ethnic cleansing of the Kukis from the State.

The Manipur Tribal Forum in its application filed on June 9 has said that since the last hearing of the matter by the top court on May 17, 2023, another 81 Kuki tribals have been killed and 31,410 displaced. Besides the killings and large-scale displacement of Kuki tribals, the application says that 141 villages have been destroyed, 237 churches and 73 administrative quarters have been torched.

The Forum has stated that the media coverage of the Manipur violence was coloured. The media portrayal of the violence as a clash between two tribal communities is far from the truth. The forum has alleged that the attackers belong to two outfits backed by the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party.

“Such a narrative (of clash between two tribal communities) misses the fact that the two communities have co-existed for a long time despite their sometime deep-rooted differences and, secondly, that the unique situation presently existing is of a couple of armed communal groups linked to the party in power in the State, carrying out a predesigned communal attack on the tribals. The ‘clash’ narrative camouflages the presence of these two groups behind all the attacks and renders them immune from prosecution thereby emboldening them to carry on further attacks,” the Manipur Tribal Forum has said.

Referring to the emergence of powerful drug mafia in the last decade or so, the applicant Forum has alleged that one “drug lord” is a relative of the former Chief Minister of Manipur and the other “drug lord” is a relative of the present Chief Minister.