Cong bats for special Manipur Assembly session as Kuki-Zos seek separate administration


The Opposition Congress in Manipur has requested Governor Anusuiya Uikey to convene an emergency session of the assembly to discuss the “ongoing unprecedented turmoil” in the state. The assembly is the most appropriate forum to discuss the situation and get suggestions on how to restore peace in the state rocked by ethnic strife since early May, the five Congress MLAs including CLP leader Okram Ibobi Singh said in a letter to the governor.
“We… seek your constitutional intervention to our urgent demand to convene an emergency session of the Manipur Legislative Assembly… (for discussing) the ongoing unprecedented turmoil for the last almost three months in Manipur,” the letter read. It claimed that Chief Minister N Biren Singh did not pay heed to the requests that came from several quarters for an emergency session of the assembly for a debate on the issue.
Manipur’s Kuki-Zo community on Thursday demonstrated in the Kangpokpi district to press their demand for a separate administration for the tribe. The demonstrators also demanded that the Centre hold “proper talks” with Kuki groups who had earlier signed a Suspension of Operations (SoO) pact with the government.
Under the banner of the Committee on Tribal Unity Sadar Hills, the protestors held a sit-in at Gamgiphai, a village along the border of Kangpokpi and Imphal West districts. “We are holding a peaceful sit-in. We want that the government meet our demand for separate administration for us,” the group said on Wednesday.
Ten tribal MLAs who come from the Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi ethnic group in Manipur have urged the Centre to create a separate administration for their community in the wake of the violent clashes between the Meiteis and tribals. Chief Minister N Biren Singh had in the past rejected the demand. The Kuki-Zo demonstrators also said they support the United People’s Front (UPF) and the Kuki National Organization (KNO), as there is speculation that the Centre will hold talks with the two groups that had inked the SoO pact. The SoO agreement was signed by the Centre, the Manipur government and two conglomerates of Kuki militant outfits—the KNO and UPF. The pact was first signed in 2008 and extended periodically. Ethnic violence broke out in Manipur nearly three months ago, killing over 160 people since then, and injuring hundreds. The violence erupted on 3 May after a “Tribal Solidarity March” was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. Meiteis account for about 53 percent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley, while tribals, which include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 percent and reside mainly in the hill districts.