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Separate administration only solution to ethnic crisis in Manipur: Apex tribal body

Imphal, June 29, 2024
The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), the apex body of the Kuki-Zomi-Hmar tribals in Manipur, on Saturday reiterated that a separate administration or Union Territory for the tribals is the only solution to the ethnic crisis in the northeastern state.

Referring to Friday’s rally in Imphal organised by the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), an umbrella body of civil society groups of the Meitei community, the ITLF said that peace in Manipur would only come when the total separation is officially acknowledged and formalised by the Central government.

“By granting us a separate administration in the shape of the Union Territory with a legislature under Article 239A, justice will then be served for the Kuki-Zomi communities,” said Ginza Vualzong, senior leader and chief spokesman of the ITLF.

He said that the Meitei wanted Kuki-Zomi eliminated from Manipur, and “they have succeeded by driving us out of their territories”.

“We are now physically and demographically divided. Any remaining Kuki-Zo in the Meitei territories were slaughtered mercilessly by the Meitei. It is evident that Kuki-Zo and Meitei cannot coexist. We must be separated,” the ITLF leader told the media.

The tribal organisation said that the rally held on Friday in Imphal reflects the views and attitudes of the majority of the Meitei, who want to exterminate and slaughter every Kuki-Zo in Manipur. “It is obvious that the Kuki-Zo are not welcome in Manipur among the Meitei.”

Meanwhile, thousands of people including students, women, youths, elderly persons and village volunteers in Manipur participated in a rally in Imphal on Friday demanding territorial and administrative integrity of the state and strongly opposed the demand for division of the state.

The participants in the rally, which was organised by the COCOMI, shouted slogans against illegal immigrants from neighbouring Myanmar, militancy, encroachment of forest land and drug smuggling.

Non-tribal Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley comprising five to six districts. Nagas and Kukis constitute a little over 40 per cent and reside in the hill districts, comprising 10 to 11 districts.

In the over year long ethnic violence between the Meiteis and Kuki-Zomi tribals, over 220 people were killed, 1,500 injured and over 70,000 people displaced after the ethnic hostility broke out on May 3 last year after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’, organised in the hill districts to protest the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status.(Agency)

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