Other States

Boycott of Sangai festival to continue, says Manipur body

Announcement comes despite Amit Shah meeting 18-member team in New Delhi.

Notwithstanding the hour-long talk in New Delhi on November 25 between Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the 18-member team from Manipur representing several civil organnisations, the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) formed by five organisations announced on Tuesday that the boycott of the international Sangai festival underway in Imphal would continue.

The COCOMI has been quarterbacking various forms of agitations demanding protection of Manipur’s integrity after signing the Naga pact. It has also announced its opposition to the Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2016, contending that the indigenous people will be swamped by outsiders once the Bill was enacted.

The COCOMI said that a joint press statement will be issued in Imphal after consulting other organisations. During the meeting on Tuesday night, Mr Shah is understood to have assured the activists that Manipur’s interests would not be compromised. Since it has been an oft-repeated assurance all these months, the COCOMI had insisted on a written assurance from the Centre. The team also submitted one memorandum containing these demands to Mr. Shah. It transpires that no such written assurance was given to the COCOMI team.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren was closeted with the Union Home Minister for over 30 minutes after the meeting between Mr. Shah and activists. It is not yet known what transpired.

Women, students and other activists have been launching sit-in protests, taking out torchlight processions demanding protection of Manipur’s interests.

The Sangai festival is an international event and officials and artists from several foreign countries are already in Manipur. However, in response to call by the COCOMI, all sections of people are boycotting it. Mr. Biren’s repeated appeals fell on deaf ears. The appeal by the foreign delegates not to boycott the festival also did not yield any result.

Mr. Biren said that his government had been assuring them that the Naga pact would not affect Manipur in any manner. Secondly, in response to the popular demand for an Assembly session, the government has decided to summon a session from December 20.

T. Mangibabu, the Congress vice president in Manipur, said, “What people demanded was a special session to take a firm stand on these burning issues. The December 20 session is not “special” but merely a normal session”.

Anticipating large-scale violence on these two issues, a large number of Central paramilitary forces personnel had been dispatched to Manipur.

Mr. Biren also said that there were four bomb blasts in the last three months in Manipur. Police say that several other unexploded bombs were detected in time, thereby saving many lives and injuries to the innocent bystanders. As a routine matter, the police and paramilitary forces are patrolling and establishing identities of hundreds of people every day.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 6:43:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/boycott-of-sangai-festival-to-continue-says-manipur-body/article30085677.ece

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