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Fresh threats in Manipur

With the situation in Manipur, where six months have passed with no end in sight to the bloody racial riots, the Kuki-Zo section have come out declaring autonomy in the region where they dominate. The leading tribal party Indigenous Tribal Leaders forum (ITLF) ha declared that the three districts of Tengnoupal, Kangpopki ans Churachandpur in which they, who form 40 percent of the state's population are the predominant natives, will constitute the territory under autonomy. And in this region a government mechanism consisting of a chief minister and bureaucracy will come into being. And ITLF general secretary Muan Tombing says that the Kukis who have been driven away from the valley including Imphal, due to the 'selective justice' of the central government, and have been subjected to genocide, do not find any alternative.

Ten MLAs including BJP members had issued a statement as early as in May demanding that in Manipur, life is impossible under the hegemony of the Meiteis, that people from ordinary children and women to MLAs and ministers are made victims of racial atrocities. The response to that from BJP leaders including central ministers, state chief minister N Biren Singh was that the autonomy demand with secession from the state cannot be entertained. But the Centre did nothing to stop the racial attacks that forced the Kukis to raise such a demand. Not only that, those including the chief minister adopted an attitude that set the racial sentiments aflame. In spite of the fact that the genocide in Manipur became the subject of widespread criticism at the international level, the prime minister was not prepared to directly condemn the genocide, visit the state or speak in strong language to those who took to violence. This compounded the angst and protest of the Kukis. It is from that sentiment that they came to the demand of autonomy, that has been suppressed for long. At a huge protest rally of Kukis on Wednesday, Tombing declared that if their six-month old demand was not heeded within two weeks, they would proceed with their own autonomous government. The rally was held against the Kuki-Zo tribals being subjected to mass murders and expulsion, and not stopping there, the acts of agencies like CBI and NIA, in addition to police, of charging cases based on complaints by Meiteis.

In the matter of clashes, the central government has been making new precedents in Manipur. Despite over a hundred people being killed and nearly three quarters of a lakh people being displaced, what the Modi government did was to support chief minister Biren Singh on the justification that they 'were co-operating with the Centre'. When the law and order situation of a state gets out of control, there is a provision in the Constitution to bring the government of that state under the direct control of the Centre. But even after mass killings, arson and selective destruction of places of worship, the Centre did not move, nor did it move the state government. Factors that influenced their thinking included continuation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) except in areas of 19 police stations of the Meitei areas, and the Meiteis' possession of thousands of military equipment including rocket launchers to automatic weapons and armaments from the warehouses of police and India Reserve Battalion. Instead of seizing them through raids, the government became a laughing stock by opening recovery counters with boards put up for surrender of weapons. These steps form the list of series of steps taken by the state and central governments which ratify the complaint that during the racial riots the government was taking sides with the offenders. After the riot completed six months, and the racial division became complete, and by the time some extremist Meitei outfits were banned, things had gone out of hand.

nd of the union minister was peace first, and political talks later. But then there was no step by the Centre for peace either. Even last week, a central team led by Intelligence Bureau officials and central home ministry advisor AK Mishra, had met ITLF leaders which again did not serve any purpose for resolution of the problem. It is in this context that the autonomy declaration of three districts was made. The Centre's precise response on this is yet come. With the existing threat of big power China in the northeastern border, ever since Manipur started burning every one had been pointing out that failure to resolve the disturbances in border states would aggravate the situation. But without paying heed to any of such calls, the BJP regimes are moving forward by fostering racial politics. The country is anxious to what disaster this will push the country.

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TAGS:ManipurEditorialImphalKukis & MeiteisMuan Tombing
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