Manipur government has submitted its authority to armed militia: ITLF

Meitei group Arambai Tenggol summoned MPs, MLAs to Imphal’s Kangla Fort to pledge to protect Manipur’s integrity; President’s Rule is the only way the Centre can prevent total anarchy in Manipur, ITLF says

January 25, 2024 05:11 pm | Updated 09:16 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Members of Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) take part in a protest rally. The ITLF has slammed the Union and Manipur governments for letting the Arambai Tenggol to dictate terms to Manipur MPs and MLAs. FIle

Members of Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) take part in a protest rally. The ITLF has slammed the Union and Manipur governments for letting the Arambai Tenggol to dictate terms to Manipur MPs and MLAs. FIle | Photo Credit: PTI

GUWAHATI

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) has slammed the Union and Manipur governments for letting the Arambai Tenggol, a Meitei “armed militant group”, to dictate terms to the State’s MPs and MLAs.

On Wednesday, two MPs and MLAs from the Meitei-dominated Imphal Valley assembled at the historic Kangla Fort in Imphal, the State capital, after the Arambai Tenggol summoned them there to pledge to protect Manipur’s integrity.

The MLAs included the BJP Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh, as well as his predecessor and veteran Congress leader Okram Ibobi Singh. The MPs were Minister of State for External Affairs Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, and Rajya Sabha member Leishemba Sanajaoba.

Oath-taking ceremony

“Manipur State police and Central security forces remained mute spectators as Arambai Tenggol leader Korounganba Khuman arrived at the venue in Imphal in a police vehicle, and the militant group proceeded to administer an oath-taking ceremony to the MLAs,” the ITLF said in a statement, labelling the Meitei group as a “militia” that led the attacks on the Kuki-Zomi tribal people in Manipur.

“All these happened even as a special team sent by the Central government was camping nearby in the city. Why did the world’s largest democracy allow this?” the forum asked.

Armed militia

“Khuman is not some shadowy figure pulling the strings from behind and hiding what he does. He regularly posts pictures and videos of himself holding assault rifles and publicly gives speeches before armed men calling for attacks on tribals,” it said. “Why has the Central government not acted against this individual? Also, there are numerous videos of Arambai Tenggol cadres openly displaying sophisticated weapons stolen from armouries. They don’t even feel the need to hide the government-issued weapons,” the ITLF added.

Wednesday’s events showed that the Manipur government has submitted its authority to an armed militia, said the forum, which primarily represents the Kuki-Zomi people. “The imposition of President’s Rule is the only way the Central government can prevent total anarchy in Manipur,” the ITLF said.

More than 200 people have been killed and some 70,000 displaced since ethnic clashes between the Meitei and the Kuki-Zomi people broke out on May 3, 2023.

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