In a significant development, a frontal organisation of Kuki-Zo tribes in Manipur has claimed that the communities are ready to establish a “self-governed separate administration” in areas dominated by the tribal groups.
The statement by the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) comes after months of ethnic unrest in the Northeastern state that has claimed about 180 lives and displaced thousands.
“It has been over six months and nothing has been done regardng our demand for a separate administration from Manipur government. So if our voice is not heard within couple of weeks, we will set up our self-government. Irrespective of whether the Centre recognises it or not, we will go ahead. As in a state or a Union Territory, we will set up a self-government that will look into all matters in the Kuki-Zo areas, we have to do this since our voice has not been heard,” said Muan Tombing, general Secretary of the ITLF.
MLAs from the state’s tribal communities, including those from the ruling BJP, have demanded a total separation from the Manipur government that is dominated by the majority Meities.
ITLF today organised massive protests in Churachandpur, demanding the fulfillment of its core demand and seeking investigation by the CBI or the NIA into the killing of 22 tribals.
“Many brutal killings of members of Kuki-Zo community have taken place but the CBI or the central agencies have not taken them up for investigation. This rally is to protest against the atrocities committed against Kuki-Zo people,” ITLF spokesperson Ginza Vualzong said.
The ongoing ethnic unrest in Manipur sparked in May following a move to give Meiteis Scheduled Tribe status. The move has since been rolled back.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of the state’s population and live mostly in Imphal Valley. The tribals constitute 40 per cent and reside mainly in hill districts.