While the Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi is keeping a carrot dangling in case of the demand for a separate district to be carved out of Imphal East district, Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam Gangmei has brushed aside the demands for homeland and new state for the Naga and the Kuki tribals who are demanding scissoring off the Naga and the Kuki "lands" from Manipur as mere pipe dream. They made the comments in the backdrop of the renewed demand for the creation of Jiribam district by upgrading Jiribam sub division to a full fledged revenue district, the "alternative arrangement" for the Nagas in Manipur and a Kuki state to be carved out of Manipur.
Talking to journalists on Wednesday night Gangemi said that Manipur has an area of 22, 327 sq. km which is much smaller than any district of a big state. If the areas dominated, as claimed by maps now in circulation, by the Nagas and the Kukis are sliced off what will remain of Manipur will be ludicrously small. He appealed to the architects of these states to abandon this unreasonable demand. It may be recalled that the organisations of these two tribes had circulated maps of their proposed "alternative arrangement" and Kuki state. If these areas are conceded to them what will be left of Manipur will be much smaller than a standard village in any state.
Gangemi said that if there are different new states for the Nagas, the Kukis, the Meiteis and the Muslims, then this ancient state with a written chronicle of more than 2000 years will be fragmented and the generations-old cordial communal harmony will be smashed to smithereens. He said that the architects of the new states should stop dreaming for and quarterbacking the disintegration of Manipur.
Referring to the general strikes called by the United Naga Council and the Kuki Statehood Demand Committee Gangemi said that it is very unfortunate that the strikes which will paralyse normal life are called at a time the people are wallowing in shortages following landslips along the two highways which are Manipur's lifelines. The UNC is calling the 48 hour general strike from August 11 midnight demanding the next round of talks among the Union, state governments and the UNC leaders on the demand of the "alternative arrangement". The Naga civil organisations have been saying that as they no longer wish to stay under the "communal government" they are demanding an "alternative arrangement". Five rounds of talks had already been held. Nothing concrete has emerged from the talks. The Kuki Statehood Demand Committee is also calling its own general strike from August 13 midnight. It is intended to disrupt normal life and the celebration of the Independence Day. Gangmei says that the transportation of fuel and consumer items which has gained momentum will be affected during the general strike. It will be a crippling blow to the people if there are general strikes now in furtherance of the Naga and the Kuki demands.
Meanwhile some representatives of the Jiribam Districthood Demand Committee had met with the Chief Minister Okram Ibobi. In view of the fast developing situation for separate states to be carved out of Manipur he refused to give any commitment. However he assured the representatives that the state cabinet shall take a decision on the demand soon. The decision will have a direct bearing on the demands of the Nagas and the Kukis. For the time being his appeal for a united Manipur seems to be falling at deaf ears.
Prices of consumer items which are in short supply even now are exorbitant and petrol and diesel are strictly rationed as and when stock is available in some oil pumps.