Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum rejects inclusion of CM Biren in Peace Committee; says villages still under attack

Imphal: The Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) in a condemnation note to the Centre’s appointment of 51 member Peace Committee has reiterated the need for normalcy to prevail first before constituting such Committee in Manipur.

“No such normalcy can be maintained as long as the state police and Meitei militant groups are given free rein to terrorize Kuki-Zo tribal villages in the foothills, preventing the Central Armed Forces from taking control of the situation,” ITLF pointed out.

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The Centre on June 10 constituted a 51 member Peace Committee from various prominent leaders and personalities from all communities in Manipur, to be headed by Governor Anusuiya Uikey as chairperson in order to “help establish peace, social and communal harmony among various ethnic groups and promote a sense of security in the general public.”

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The 51 member Committee also includes chief minister N Biren Sigh. To this end, the ITLF has said it “strongly condemns the inclusion of CM N Biren Singh, the very perpetrator of the current violence in the Peace Committee. The creation of such a Peace Committee, made by the central government, must be made only after conditions of normalcy and security for the Kuki-tribal villages have been secured for a certain period of time.”

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The ITLF also said that it stands firmly on the need for peace in the region. However, it categorically outlined that “it cannot overlook the fact that Kuki-Zo villages across the foothills in Kangchup, Sugnu, Kangvai, and other areas have faced constant attacks by Meitei militants in the last few days. At present, more than 160 Kuki-Zo villages have been burnt and continue to be under constant attack from Meitei militants backed by the State Police.”

The tribal forum further suggested “immediate imposition of President’s Rule in order to curb the incursions made by Meitei Militants and state police on Kuki-Zo tribal lands, as well as the Meitei’s allegations of Kuki-Zo village volunteers (termed by state media as ‘Kuki militants) attacking Meitei villages.”

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Reiterating its position over the state machinery under the Chief Ministership of N Biren, ITLF held directly responsible N Biren for engineering and escalation of the violence.

The tribal forum furthermore argued that it was N Biren’s “constant rhetoric and hate speech against the Kuki-Zo community, the wholesale tagging of Kuki-Zo community as drug peddlers, terrorists, and illegal immigrants directly shadow the open declaration of genocide by the Meitei Leepun’s chief Pramot Singh on National Media and the declaration of proxy war of “Chin-Kuki Narco-terrorism” by fringe Meitei groups like the COCOMI and other radical groups like Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun.”

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It is worth noting that the Centre in its June 10 order, instructed the Committee that it should facilitate peacemaking process among various ethnic groups of the State, including peaceful dialogue and negotiations between conflicting parties/groups. The Committee should strengthen social cohesiveness, mutual understanding and facilitate cordial communication between various ethnic groups.

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