Amid the ethnic unrest in Manipur, 10 tribal MLAs of various parties, including that of the BJP in a significant development, on Friday, indirectly demanded a separate state for the Kuki tribals.
The 10 legislators — five of the BJP, two belonging to JD-U, two Kuki People’s Alliance (KPA) and one Independent MLA, demanded “Separate Administration” for the tribals, who constitute around 37 to 40 per cent of the total of 27.21 lakhs population (2011 census).
In a signed statement, the MLAs said that the unabated violence that began on May 3 in Manipur perpetrated by majority Meiteis tacitly supported by the state government against the Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi hill tribals has already partitioned the state and effected a total separation from the state of Manipur.
“Our people can no longer exist under Manipur as the hatred against our tribal community reached such a height that MLAs, Ministers, pastors, police and civil officers, common men, women and even children were not spared, not to mention the destruction of places of worship, homes and properties. To live amidst the Meitei again is as good as death for our people,” the statement said.
It said, therefore, “as elected representatives of the people, we today represent the sentiments of our people and endorse their political aspiration of separation from the state of Manipur”.
“We have also decided to hold a political consultation with our people at the earliest regarding further course of action.”
“As the state of Manipur has miserably failed to protect us, we seek from the Union of India a separate administration under the Constitution of India and live peacefully as neighbours with the state of Manipur,” the statement stated.
The ten MLAs include, Letpao Haokip (Tengnoupal assembly constituency), Letzamang Haokip (Henglep), Nechal Kipgen (Kangpokpi) Paolienlal Haokip (Saikot), Vungzagin Valte (Thanlon), all BJP legislators, Ngursanglur Sanate (Tipaimukh) Aand L.M. Khaute (Churachandpur), both JD-U MLAs, Kimneo Haokip Hangshing (Saikul) and Chinlunthang (Singhat ), both KPA members, and independent MLA Haokholet Kipgen (Saitu).
The hills account for 90 per cent of the state’s area and 10 per cent population while the valley occupies 10 per cent land.In the valley, there are Hindu, non-tribal Meitei communities while the hills are inhabited largely by the Christian Naga and Kuki-Zomi communities.
The northeastern state of Manipur witnessed unprecedented violent clashes, attacks, counter-attacks and arsoning of houses, vehicles and government and private properties in more than 10 districts during and after May 3 ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ called by the All Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur (ATSUM) to oppose the demand for inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe category.
Acting on a writ petition filed by the Meetei (Meitei) Trade Union, the Manipur High Court acting Chief Justice M.V. Muralidaran on April 19 had directed the state government to submit the recommendation for inclusion of Meitei (Meetei) community in the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list to the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry.
The High Court order snowballed into a major controversy with thousands of tribals turning up for the ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ in 10 hill districts on May 3 called by ATSUM.
Earlier a civil writ petition filed by eight members of the Meetei (Meitei) Tribe Union led by union secretary Mutum Churamani Meetei had sought the issuance of a writ of mandamus directing the first respondent (Manipur government) to submit a recommendation in reply to the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry’s letter dated May 29, 2013.
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)