KOCHI: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan blamed a section of Indian mainstream media for rushing to cover the war in West Asia while siding with Israel but at the same time refraining from bringing out the real picture from Manipur, despite months of ethnic clashes that have claimed over 200 lives as per official figures.
Speaking after releasing 'Manipur FIR', a book by veteran journalist George Kallivayal, here, the Chief Minister said the book stands out at a time when most reports from Manipur have been a watered-down version of the clashes that continue to happen.
"The violence in Manipur began in May, and there are still reports about the clashes. We should not forget the fact that there were Internet blackouts to ensure that the scale of violence did not come out," Pinarayi said.
Praising the book, the CM said, "Another feature of the reports from Manipur was that they were twisted and served to the public. This is where this book by Kallivayal would stand out. I'm sure that the book by Kallivayal would be a reference point for those who would want to study the genesis of the clashes in Manipur and its current situation."
Pointing out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not uttered a word about the violence in Manipur until 80 days after, the Chief Minister said several leaders of opposition parties went to the northeastern state, interacted with the people there, and stood with them after the violence erupted.
"The prime minister of the country chose to utter a word about Manipur only when the news about an incident that became a blot on the civilized society came out," Pinarayi said, without directly referring to the video of two women, allegedly belonging to the Kuki community, being molested and paraded naked that went viral on social media.
"For three months, neither the union ministers nor the prime minister bothered about the escalating violence in Manipur," he said.
"We saw cases being foisted upon those who spread the visuals on social media, while those who spread the violence got away scot-free. Several fact-finding missions went to Manipur to study the situation, and this resulted in cases against journalists and lawyers, We also witnessed an FIR being registered against the Editors Guild of India. And finally, the Supreme Court was forced to intervene," the Kerala CM observed.
"The official statistics put out by the government said about 200 people died in the Manipur violence. Over 1,000 people were injured, and 5,000 houses were burned down. We know that the official figures will downplay the incident. This shows that unofficial figures will be much higher," Pinarayi said.
Senior Congress leader and Congress Working Committee member Ramesh Chennithala, who received the first copy of the 'Manipur FIR' book remarked that it was sad to see the beautiful state of Manipur being wrecked by the violence, which is the result of hatred that was injected into the communities by the ruling BJP. He added that 150 churches have been destroyed in the ongoing clashes.