A tribal leaders’ forum in Manipur has sought the “total separation” of the hill areas inhabited by the indigenous people, primarily those belonging to the Kuki-Chin-Zomi-Mizo group, from the State.
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In a petition to former CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) chief Kuldiep Singh, appointed by the security advisor to the Manipur Government soon after ethnic clashes broke out in the State on May 3, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) said the tribal people of Manipur “could no longer live with the dominant Meiteis anymore”.
ITLF describes itself as a conglomerate of the recognised tribes in Manipur’s Churachandpur, one of the worst-affected districts during the ethnic clashes.
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The “endless atrocities” have proved that the Meiteis hate the tribal people, a statement issued by ITLF chairman Pagin Haokip and secretary Muan Tombing said.
“There is a clear-cut partition of hill and valley people as the tribals living in Imphal (Valley) have now returned to the tribal areas and the Meiteis living in the tribal areas have gone to Imphal,” the ITLF said with a list of 44 natives killed on the spot, 213 injured people— 17 of whom succumbed to their injures, 113 villages and 220 churches burnt.
Accusing the State Government machinery of unleashing genocide on the tribal people and citing a “long history of resentment and discrimination”, the ITLF outlined five demands for the Centre to look into.
The forum asked the Centre to facilitate the “homecoming” of more than 100 unidentified tribal bodies lying in Imphal hospitals and elsewhere for proper burial. “We would like to give our martyrs a befitting honourable last rite,” it said.
The ITLF claimed the hill areas had not received any relief from the Centre after 19 days of the Manipur crisis. “We request the Government of India to arrange quick relief and rehabilitation for thousands of displaced people. Any relief support should come directly to the people and not through the State Government as we do not trust them anymore,” it said.
The forum also sought the resettlement or reposting of tribal employees of the State and Central Governments as early as possible. Such employees have not been able to report for duty in Imphal Valley.
The ITLF further sought protection against two armed radical Meitei groups — Arambam Tenggol and Meitei Leepun — in the border areas of the tribal habitations by neutral forces. Holding these groups responsible for the killing of tribal people and the destruction of their houses, the form said they needed to be stopped.
“It is known that they [radical groups] are backed by the leaders of the State Government. To end the violence in Manipur, the activities of these radical groups must be stopped immediately and legal action should be taken against them,” the ITLF said.