IMPHAL- The Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum ( ITLF ) a frontal organisation of the Kuki-Zo tribes in Manipur has claimed they are ready to establish a “self-governed separate administration” in areas dominated by them, “whether the centre recognises it or not”.
This statement, comes after six months of ethnic violence in the Northeastern state of Manipur, which has resulted in around 180 casualties and the displacement of thousands.
“It has been over six months and nothing has been done regarding our demand for a separate administration from the Manipur government. So if our voice is not heard within a couple of weeks, we will set up our self-government. Irrespective of whether the centre recognises it or not, we will go ahead,” ITLF general secretary Muan Tombing told reporters amid a protest in Manipur’s Churachandpur district on wednesday.
The ITLF organised the protests in Churachandpur today to push for its core demand of separate administration, and also to request for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the alleged killing of 22 people of the Kuki tribes.
ITLF spokesperson Ginza Vualzong said, “Many brutal killings of members of the 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 the Kuki-Zo people.”
The ethnic unrest in Manipur began on May 3 following a protest by the Kuki tribes against the Meiteis’ demand for inclusion under the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category.
Though the immediate cause of the ethnic clashes is said to be over the Meities’ demand for ST tag, many leaders including Home Minister Amit Shah and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar have said entry of illegal immigrants is one of the main factors behind the unrest in the northeast state, which is ruled by the BJP.
The NIA has said it is looking into an alleged transnational conspiracy involving terror groups hiding in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Manipur to exploit the ethnic violence in the northeast state.