The European Parliament adopted a motion on the Manipur violence moments before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in France.
“Parliament strongly urges the Indian authorities to put in place all necessary measures to promptly halt the ethnic and religious violence and to protect all religious minorities,” it said on Thursday.
They expressed concern over clashes between Manipur’s majority Meitei, who are mostly Hindus and live in and around the state capital Imphal, and the mainly Christian Kuki tribe in the surrounding hills.
Since May 2023, the violent clashes in the state of Manipur have left at least 120 people dead, 50,000 displaced, and over 1,700 houses and 250 churches destroyed.
The development comes hours before Indian PM Modi landed in France on a two-day visit. Modi, who is expected to join French President Emmanuel Macron at the Bastille Day parade, is expected to have defence talks with the European country.
Indian newspaper, The Indian Express, reported that the Parliament denounced in the “strongest terms” nationalistic rhetoric deployed by BJP leaders. The Modi-led government has described the issue as “entirely an internal matter”.
The debate on the Manipur violence was included in the Parliament’s agenda during its ongoing plenary session in Strasbourg, France.
The European Parliament resolution noted that intolerance towards minority communities has contributed to the current violence and that there have been concerns about politically motivated, divisive policies that promote Hindu majoritarianism in the area.
It lamented that minorities, civil society, human rights defenders and journalists regularly face “harassment”; whereas women in particular face severe challenges and violations of their rights often related to tribal and religious backgrounds, including sexual violence and harassment.
The resolution mentioned the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ October 2022 report, which India to safeguard the rights of human rights defenders. It also raised concerns over shrinking space for civil society, detentions and harassment of those exercising their legitimate rights and the use of laws to stifle dissent.
The Manipur state government has also shut down internet connections and severely hindered reporting by the media, it highlighted, while security forces have been implicated in the recent killings, “something that has further increased distrust” in the authorities.
European lawmakers called on the Indian authorities to allow independent investigations to look into the violence, tackle impunity and lift the internet ban. They also urged all conflicting sides to cease making inflammatory statements, re-establish trust and play an impartial role to mediate the tensions.
The Parliament reiterated its call for human rights to be integrated into all areas of the EU-India partnership, including trade. They also advocated for the EU-India Human Rights Dialogue to be reinforced and encourage the EU and its member states to “systematically and publicly raise human rights concerns, notably on freedom of expression, religion and the shrinking space for civil society, with the Indian side at the highest level”.