Ten tribal MLAs in Manipur’s Assembly have called for a “separate administration” for the tribal-dominated districts, effectively calling for the state to be divided.
In a press statement issued today, the MLAs said, “Our people can no longer exist under Manipur,” adding that the recent violence against their communities has already effectively divided the state.
The ten legislators are Haokholet Kipgen (Saitu), Ngursanglur Sanate (Tipaimukh), Kimneo Haokip Hangshing (Saikul), Letpao Haokip (Tengnoupal), LM Khaute (Churachandpur), Letzamang Haokip (Henglep), Chinluthang (Singngat), Paolienlal Haokip (Saikot), Nemcha Kipgen (Kangpokpi) and Vungjagin Valte (Thanlon).
The “hatred against our tribal community” got to such a point that “MLAs, ministers, pastors, police and civil officers, laymen women and even children were not spared”. On top of that was the destruction of property, which means that “to live amidst the Meitei community again is as good as death for our people.”
The signatories did not refer to violence committed against the Meitei community. They also blamed the Manipur government for having “miserably failed” to protect the Chin, Kuki, Mizo, Zomi people and thus want the central government to give the hill tribes a separate administration so that they can live peacefully “as neighbours with the state of Manipur.”
Violent clashes had broken out in the northeastern state after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts on May 3 to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
The clashes were preceded by tension over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, which had led to a series of smaller agitations and tension between the Meiteis and Kukis.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley.
Tribals — Nagas and Kukis — constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.
A total of 128 columns of the Indian Army and Assam Rifles or nearly 10,000 soldiers have been deployed in the affected areas.
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