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SOURCE: PTI

 Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Sunday said that a state Cabinet sub-committee had detected 2,480 illegal immigrants in 2023 but the campaign was cut short after violence broke out on May 3 last year.

Addressing a press conference Singh said concerned with increasing deforestation and setting up of new villages by illegal immigrants, a Cabinet sub-committee was formed in February 2023 after a cabinet meeting attended by two Kuki ministers Letpao Haokip and Nemcha Kipgen.

Haokip was made the head of the sub-committee to identify illegal immigrants.

“We are not biased against anybody but against the illegal immigrants. It was a decision taken by the state cabinet,” Singh said.

“Biometrics were taken in ten villages of Chandel during which 1,165 illegal immigrants were found, 1,147 illegal immigrants were found in 13 villages of Tengnoupal district, 154 illegal immigrants in Churachandpur and rest were found in Kamjong district,” Singh said.

These figures are not inclusive of the additional 5,457 illegal immigrants who entered Kamjong district, Singh said, adding biometrics of 5,173 people have been taken while 329 have returned back voluntarily after situation improved in the neighbouring country.

“The detection of illegal immigrants was not limited to one community but was to cover the entire state of Manipur. They were found after visiting villages,” Singh said.

“The campaign for identifying illegal immigrants was, however, cut short just after a month it started and had to be stopped after violence broke out on May 3,” Singh said.

More than 219 people were killed and thousands displaced from homes after ethnic clashes broke out on May 3 last year, when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals – Nagas and Kukis – constitute little over 40 per cent and reside in the hill districts.