Imphal: The Manipur government has strongly condemned the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum’s (ITLF) call for “self-governed separate administration” in districts dominated by members of the Kuki-Zo community and termed it as illegal.
State government spokesperson and Education Minister Th Basantakumar Singh told reporters Thursday night that “the irresponsible statements appear to be motivated and aimed at vitiating and disturbing the law and order situation in the state.”
“Meeting of the ruling party legislators held Thursday strongly condemned the statement and appropriate legal actions is being initiated against ITLF and persons concerned,” the minister said.
ITLF, a frontal organisation of Kuki-Zo tribes in Manipur, had Wednesday threatened to establish a “self-governed separate administration” in areas where these tribes have a majority.
The forum said even after more than six months of ethnic strife in the northeastern state, the central government is yet to accept their demand for a separate administration.
“More than six months have passed since the ethnic strife started in Manipur but nothing has been done regarding our demand for a separate administration. If our demand is not heard within a couple of weeks, we will set up our self-government irrespective of whether the Centre recognises it or not,” ITLF general secretary Muan Tombing said.
The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) has also condemned ITLF’s separate administration demand and said it will only escalate the prevailing tense situation.
It is a conspiracy to permanently rule out peaceful co-existence, COCOMI said in a statement, adding it is well known to both the central and state governments that illegal immigrants are primarily behind the violence in Manipur.
Manipur has remained gripped by recurring bouts of violence since ethnic clashes first erupted in May. More than 180 people have been killed since then.
The clashes have occurred over a number of grievances that both sides have against the other, however, the flashpoint of the crisis has been a move to give Meiteis Scheduled Tribe status, which has since been rolled back and an attempt to turf out tribals living in protected forest areas.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal valley, while tribals, which include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mainly in the hill districts.