NEW DELHI — “A big shout-out to the Indian Army for their dedication in bringing them (212 Meiteis) home,” tweeted Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, even as the Assembly session summoned from Monday could be boycotted by Kuki legislators.
Owing to large-scale demands from opposition parties and civil society organisations, the beleaguered Manipur government headed by Biren Singh has decided to convene the Assembly session from Monday (August 21).
But the 10 Kuki-Zo legislators have announced that they will not attend the upcoming session.
BJP legislator Paolienlal Haokip said that seven saffron party MLAs and three others will also not attend the session as a mark of protest against the “criminal attacks” against the Kuki-Zo community in a “state-sponsored pogrom”.
He went on to state that the capital Imphal valley has turned into a “valley of death” not only for the Kuki-Zo community, but also for all other “ethnic Mizo people” — irrespective of the fact whether they are from Manipur or Mizoram.
The 10 legislators are — Haokholet Kipgen (Independent) Kimneo Haokip Hangshing (KPA), Chinlungthang (KPA), and L.M. Khaute, Nemcha Kipgen, Ngursanglur Sanate, Letpao Haokip, Letzamang Haokip, Paolienlal Haokip and Vungjagin Valte, all BJP MLAs.
Letpao Haokip and Nemcha Kipgen are ministers in the Biren Singh government.
The boycott of the proceedings by Kuki-Zo MLAs will make the affairs a damp squib even as all eyes will be on the Naga MLAs now.
Forty MLAs from violence-hit Manipur, including eight Naga MLAs had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding the withdrawal of the Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with Kuki militant groups and implementation of NRC in the state.
They also said that a ‘separate administration’ sought by Kuki groups was absolutely unacceptable.
The potent insurgent group NSCN-IM, which enjoys considerable community-based support base in the Naga areas of Manipur, criticised the Naga MLAs for writing such a letter/memorandum to PM, which it said had nothing to do with the political aspirations of the Naga people.
The memorandum said, “A ‘separate administration’ as demanded by the ITLF/Kukis is absolutely unacceptable under any circumstances.”
The eight Naga MLAs included NPF Manipur unit President Awangbou Newmai, also a minister in the Biren Singh government.
On Wednesday, the Kuki MLAs sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister demanding the creation of the posts of Chief Secretary and Director General of Police or equivalent posts for the five hill districts of Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, Chandel, Tengnoupal, and Pherzaw.
They also demanded the sanction of Rs 500 crore from the PM’s Relief Fund for the proper rehabilitation of the Zomi-Kuki people. The MLAs alleged that Imphal has become a “valley of death” and destruction for the Kuki-Zomi people.
“No member of Kuki-Zo community is in the Imphal valley and no member of the Meitei community is in the hill areas,” the MLAs said.
The 10 legislators in another letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah have asked for immediate political dialogue for political and administrative recognition of the ‘ethnic separation’ that has been forced upon them.
“Even members of the state Assembly were not spared. MLA Vungzagin Valte and his driver were waylaid while he was returning from a meeting at the Chief Minister’s bungalow in May. His driver was beaten to death,” the Kuki leaders alleged.
In his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of Red Fort, Prime Minister Modi had said both the state and Central governments are working together to find solutions to the issues in Manipur and “will continue to do so”.
“In the last few days, we have been hearing continuous reports of peace, and the entire nation stands with the people of Manipur. The people of Manipur have maintained peace in the past few days, and they should continue to foster that peace, as it is the path to resolution,” Modi had said.
Meanwhile, Biren Singh in a tweet on Friday expressed gratitude towards the Army and Assam Rifles for the ‘return’ of as many as 212 Meitei people, who had taken shelter in Myanmar during the peak of violence.
“Relief and gratitude as 212 fellow Indian citizens (all Meiteis) who sought safety across the Myanmar border post the May 3rd unrest in Moreh town of Manipur, are now safely back on Indian soil. A big shout-out to the Indian Army for their dedication in bringing them home. Sincere gratitude to GOC Eastern Command, Lt Gen. RP Kalita, GOC 3 Corp, Lt Gen. HS Sahi and CO of 5 AR, Col. Rahul Jain for their unwavering service,” he tweeted.
Sources in Assam Rifles said, “Persistent endeavours of Assam Rifles in close coordination with the civil administration and the police ensured the safe return of 212 persons, including 89 women and 37 children, from Myanmar to the Moreh camp of Assam Rifles in Manipur.”
They also said that so far, more than 400 displaced persons have been assisted by Assam Rifles and state police. — IANS