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Top athletes from Manipur write to centre over ethnic conflict


Imphal: Eleven prominent sports personalities from Manipur, including Olympic medalist Mirabai Chanu and Padma Award-winning weightlifter Kunjarani Devi, have written a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah about the ethnic conflict in the state. They urged him to find a solution.

They also warned that they would return their awards and medals if "peace and normalcy" are not restored in Manipur. They also asked to unlock the National Highway-2 which has been blocked for the past few weeks. This has resulted in the price rise of essential commodities in several parts of the state.

There are eight demands in the letter. The signatories also demanded that the suspension of operations (SoO) agreements with the militant groups be revoked and the Centre "not accept the demand to disintegrate Manipur".

There are nearly Kuki insurgent groups in Manipur and 25 of them are under SoO, a pact signed in 2008 to initiate political dialogue. The Kuki outfits initially demanded a separate Kuki state which would have financial and administrative powers independent of the Manipur Assembly and government.

The current conflict is over the Meiteis' demand to be considered a scheduled tribe.

One of the demands in the letter are to allow Meiteis to settle in the hills. "Meiteis are allowed to settle only in the valley which constitutes just about 10% of the total geographical area of Manipur as such where the Meeties would settle after some years if the present system continues. So to allow Meiteis to settle in the hills of our State Manipur."

The letter also asked to deport illegal immigrants to their respective countries. The athletes concluded the letter by saying that they love India and they are proceeding to bring achievement in the field of sports for the country, mainly in the forthcoming Olympic Games.

The signatories of the letter are Padma Award winner weightlifter Kunjarani Devi, former Indian women's football team captain Bem Bem Devi, Boxer L Sarita Devi, Olympic medalist Mirabai Chanu, Arjuna Award-winning boxer Suranjoy Singh, boxer Khoinaijam Sanamacha Singh, boxer L Ibomcha Singh, Arjuna Award winning weightlifter Ngangbam Soniya Chanu, Arjuna Award winning Wushu player Bimboljit Singh, martial art athlete Wangkhem Sandhyarani Devi, and Wushu player Yumnam Sanathoi Devi.

Amit Shah is currently on a four-day visit to Manipur and he has met with various cabinet ministers and civil society organisations. "Had a fruitful discussion with the members of the different Civil Society Organisations today in Imphal. They expressed their commitment to peace and assured that we would together contribute to paving the way to restore normalcy in Manipur," he tweeted.

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TAGS:Manipur issue
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