TODAY -

The declarations of ITLF
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: January 28, 2024 -



WITH the wheel of fortune, which was turning in favour of the Kuki-Chin people in the initial stage of the now nearly nine months long ethnic conflict between the Meitei/Meetei and Kuki Chin communities in Manipur, seems to have reversed of late; the desperation on the part of proponents of a separate administration for the Kuki-Chin people is becoming more than apparent.

After the initial hectic attempts made to internationalise the conflict by twisting facts to suit their own narratives of portraying themselves as victim of a supposedly "systematic ethnic cleansing" of the minority Christian community by the majority Hindu Meitei/Meetei community resulted in backlashes, leaders of the Kuki-Chin people are at a loss today with mounting discontentment among their own people for a job done shoddily.

From sending despatches to the President of USA and the Prime Minister of Israel seeking help to petitioning the United Nations, they did everything possible and even succeeded in influencing the European Parliament to adopt a resolution in connection with the violence in this north-eastern state.

But these efforts have come to naught.

Instead of advancing their cause, these efforts have only shown the hollowness of their claim and exposed the false narratives spun around the conflict that broke out on May 3 last year after a supposedly peaceful Tribal Solidarity March taken out in all the hill districts of the state to register protest against a directive given by the High Court of Manipur to the Government of Manipur for sending the requisite recommendation to the Centre for recognition of Meitei/Meetei as Scheduled Tribe (ST) turned violent only in Churachandpur district before it soon spread to other Kuki-Chin dominated areas, where the houses and properties of unsuspected Meitei/Meetei were targeted, forcing people in the valley to retaliate.

It is in the light of this turning tide that the declarations adopted by Indigenous Tribal Leaders' Forum (ITLF) during its 5th public consultation should be analysed for better understanding of the situation in which the proponents of a separate administration for the Kuki-Chin people are currently in today.

Coming close behind the January 24 meeting convened by Arambai Tenggol with all the MLAs and MPs from the valley at Kangla Fort, where an oath was taken for safeguarding the territorial integrity of Manipur in the interest of indigenous people, the ITLF declarations have shown the desperation of Kuki-Chin leaders, who were pressing for a separate administration and imposition of President's Rule in strife-torn Manipur until recently, by saying now that "Centre should directly administer us from Delhi."

Apart from the fact this is a great come down from their earlier stand of "self-rule", their desire for administering directly from Delhi has also already come in conflict with Delhi, when they raised objection to scrapping of the Free Movement Regime (FMR) along the Indo-Myanmar border that allows people living on either side of the border to travel up to 16 km inside each other's country without a visa and installation of border fencing, which the Government of India is considering to curb "illegal immigration" and strengthen internal security of the country.

While the declaration of approaching the Mizoram Government for their future political way forward is understandable as the past as well as the present Chief Minister of Mizoram have been poking their noses needlessly into the affairs of Manipur in the name of solidarity to the kindred tribes, what comes as a surprise is asking the 10 Kuki-Chin legislators including seven belonging to the ruling party BJP, who first raised the demand for a separate administration for the Kuki-Chin people, to resign "if the need arises."

It seems ITLF has finally come to terms with the fact that any MLA or minister who does not have confidence in the government should go instead of lingering on for nearly nine months and enjoying all the entitled perks and allowances while their own people are suffering.

Their resignation would do a great service not only to the cause of Kuki-Chin people, but also to the party which has not been able to call the shots fearing another around of see "what the Meetei government is doing to our MLAs" allegation.



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