Meitei legislators take pledge and endorse Arambai Tenggol (AT)'s demand to quell Manipur violence
Source: Waari Singbul Network *

Imphal, January 24 2024: Amidst stringent security measures, the anticipated meeting between collective leadership of Arambai Tenggol (AT), a major stakeholder in the current strife and 39 Meitei legislators of Manipur, including members of Parliament and union minister of state, Dr RK Ranjan Singh (Lok Sabha) and Maharaj Leisemba Sanajaoba (Rajya Sabha) concluded amicably at the historic Kangla Fort with the legislators endorsing the 6-point demands put forth by AT.

Additionally, the legislators took the pledge to serve the community selflessly and preserve the indigenous faith and beliefs.

Meitei legislators take pledge and endorse Arambai Tenggol (AT)'s demand to quell Manipur violence
Meitei legislators take pledge and endorse Arambai Tenggol (AT)'s demand to quell Manipur violence

The 6-point demands comprise implementing NRC with 1951 as the base year, revoking the Suspension of Operation agreement with Kuki militants, relocating all Myanmarese refugees to Mizoram, implementing border fencing, replacing Assam Rifles with other Central forces, and delisting Kukis from the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list.

Except for Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh, all Meitei MLAs in Manipur, along with Members of Parliament representing valley areas, attended the meeting with the 55-unit commanders of AT, presided over by AT supremo, Korounganba Khuman.

Since early morning on Wednesday, thousands of AT members, unarmed but dressed in black battle fatigue trousers and olive-green jackets padded with bulletproof plates, gathered at strategic points leading to Kangla fort barricaded by security personnel.

After the successful conclusion of the 10:00 am meeting was announced at 11:00 am, they dispersed peacefully.

AT Supremo, Korounganba Khuman, greeted members at strategic points, confirming the successful conduct of the meeting.

Later, he addressed a large gathering at the iconic Khwairamband Keithel or the Women's Market in Imphal city.

Khuman claimed that the representatives, including Biren Singh, although not present at the meeting, endorsed its demands by adhering to their signatures.

The legislators assured to notify the central government to act within 15 days, outlining that non-compliance would compel the legislators to act accordingly to the wishes of the people to end the on-going violence in the state.

Earlier, on 21st January after the state celebrated the 52nd Statehood Day, 35 ruling legislators, its allies NPF (Naga People's Front), NPP (National People's Party) and Independent members of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, after 2-days of brainstormed resolved the abrogation of the Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement with militants engaged in "killing civilians" and carrying out anti-state activities.

Meitei legislators take pledge and endorse Arambai Tenggol (AT)'s demand to quell Manipur violence
Meitei legislators take pledge and endorse Arambai Tenggol (AT)'s demand to quell Manipur violence

The legislators 4-points resolution also included calls for the "complete disarmament of all illegal arms in the possession of miscreants and unauthorized persons in the entire state at the earliest by the Central and state forces," aiming to stop armed attacks using sophisticated weapons like rocket-propelled grenade launchers on "Indian soil" by "Myanmar-based" armed militants and advocated replacing Assam Rifles with a neutral central force from sensitive areas like Moreh, Bishnupur, Imphal West and Kakching.

The legislators demanded appropriate action from government of India to fulfil the demands aimed at ending the violence.

Failing this, the legislators threatened to take appropriate action in consultation with the public.

This development as well as AT's "summons" to the state's Meitei law-makers to attend a meeting with it on Wednesday had prompted the ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to dispatch a special 3-member team to assess the current situation.

The MHA team, led by former Intelligence Bureau Special Director AK Mishra, along with SIB Joint Directors of Delhi and Imphal, Mandeep Singh Tuli and Rajesh Kumble respectively arrived in Imphal on Monday on a chartered Indian Air Force flight from Delhi and straight away met AT leaders and reportedly tried to dissuade them from proceeding with their proposed meeting with the Meitei legislators.

The first meeting proved inconclusive, leading to a second meeting with AT on Tuesday.

Despite efforts, AT refused to back down from its planned meeting with legislators at Kangla Fort, insisting that Meitei legislators attend or risk being labeled as enemies of the community.

AT also raised the 6-points demand with the MHA team, to which Koroungangba Khuman claimed the MHA responded positively, assuring to take up the abrogation of SoO issue as the first step.

AT, gaining prominence in the ongoing Kuki-Zo and Meitei ethnic conflict playing a key role in countering armed attacks on Meitei villages in buffer zones.

Despite over nine months passing since the strife began on May 3, 2023, intermittent attacks and counterattacks between the two communities persist.

Established in 2020, AT gained popularity in 2022 for cultural revival efforts through motor road shows and allegedly enjoyed political patronage.

The group's oath-taking ceremony occurred at the residence of Manipur's Rajya Sabha MP and titular king, Leisemba Sanajaoba.

While aligned with the state government's "war on drugs," AT faced criticism from the Indian National Congress, accused of resembling RSS and Bajrang Dal.

Kuki-Zo organizations perceive AT as a radical, armed militia threatening their community.

While in the valley, they are seen as the saviour of the Meitei community.

* The sender of this news can be reached at waarisingbul(AT)gmail(DOT)com .

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