Tribal body declares ‘self-rule’ in a few districts of Manipur

We were compelled to take the step owing to the ‘selective justice’ by the Centre, says Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum

November 15, 2023 10:10 pm | Updated November 16, 2023 06:16 am IST - NEW DELHI

Members of the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum take part in a protest rally in Churachandpur district, Manipur on July 20, 2023.

Members of the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum take part in a protest rally in Churachandpur district, Manipur on July 20, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) representing the Kuki-Zo people in Manipur has announced “self-rule” in the districts dominated by the community members. The tribal community will have a separate chief minister, and government officials from the community who were forced out of State capital Imphal when the ethnic violence erupted in the State on May 3, will be given responsibilities, an ITLF leader said. 

ITLF general secretary Muan Tombing told The Hindu on Wednesday that in wake of the “selective justice” by the Central government, they were compelled to take the step.

Also read | Kuki-Zo people hold rally for separate administration in Churachandpur

“We do not care if the Centre doesn’t recognise us. The plan has been under discussion for the past one month. The Kuki-Zo people in Tengnoupal, Kangpokpi and Churachandpur districts will have self-rule. We have no expectation from the ‘Meitei Manipur government’,” he said.

There was no response from the Union Home Ministry on the issue. 

Mr. Tombing said the Kuki-Zo people were referred as “outsiders” by Home Minister Amit Shah in Parliament in August. He refused to meet the Minister in future. 

The ITLF has held several rounds of negotiations with the officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) since May 3. 

Last week, a team of Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials and MHA adviser (northeast) A.K Mishra met the ITLF leaders in Churachandpur. 

Students in dire straits

Mr. Tombing said the students were suffering owing to the ethnic violence and the Centre was ignoring their concerns deliberately.  “There are more than 800 students whose future is in peril. Around 120 medical students and more than 600 nursing students are unable to continue their education for the past several months since they were driven out of the valley-based colleges,” Mr. Tombing said.

Earlier, 10 Kuki-Zo legislators, including those from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had demanded separate administration.

At least 175 people have been killed and more than thousands displaced after ethnic violence between the tribal Kuki-Zo and the majority Meitei community erupted in the State on May 3.

The ITLF took out a protest march in Churachandpur on Wednesday. The tribal body submitted a memorandum to the government demanding “impartial” investigation into at least 20 cases involving the Kuki-Zo people. 

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