Kukis unhappy, may not attend peace panel meetings in Manipur

Imphal: Kuki members included in a committee set up by the Centre to facilitate the peace-making process among various ethnic groups of strife-torn Manipur expressed unhappiness, claiming they were not consulted before including their name in the panel.

Several Kuki organisations also raised objections to the inclusion of Chief Minister N Biren Singh in the 51-member panel headed by Governor Anusuiya Uikey.

The Meitei community members, however, welcomed formation of the Peace Committee.

The apex body of Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) in a statement said its president has been included in the list of members “without prior and proper consultation and information”.

“Kuki Inpi Manipur senses no rationale to pursue peace solely with individuals who have engineered the violence against its people… Peace must be the result of the concerted efforts of the Union Home Ministry and the affected communities. It cannot be a condition to impose normalcy,” the KIM said.

Kuki-based civil society organisation Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) has also condemned the inclusion of Chief Minister N Biren Singh in the panel.

“The creation of such a Peace Committee… by the Central government must be made only after conditions of normalcy and security for Kuki-tribal villages have been secured,” the ITLF said in a statement.

Another organisation, Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) asserted that unless the people’s demand for taking action against illegal immigrants and narco-terrorists is fulfilled, peace and normalcy will remain a far cry.

“Since these demands have been ignored by the government of India, COCOMI will stay away from the Peace Committee,” its Convenor Jeetendra Ningomba said in a statement.

Multiple sources in the Kuki community claimed that its members in the panel are unlikely to attend the meetings.

Several Meitei members included in the committee, however, welcomed the move.

“Damages and casualties have been enormous. The fight between brothers must be resolved at the earliest. Step by step solution must be sought and the formation of the Committee is the first step towards restoring peace and normalcy,” Sarangthen Brajabihari, Chairman of the Bar Council of Manipur, told PTI.

Retired news editor of All India Radio, BB Sharma, said the members have not been informed about the agenda of the Committee.“I have been informed that the first meeting is on June 15 at 2 pm at Raj Bhavan. I will definitely go,” he said.

The Committee has 25 representatives from the Meitei community, 11 from the Kuki community and 10 from the Naga community which has Governor Anusuiya Uikey as the Chairperson. Three from the Muslim and two from the Nepali community are also included in the Committee.

At least 100 people lost their lives and 310 others were injured in the ethnic violence between Meitei and Kuki community people in Manipur that broke out a month ago. Army and para-military personnel were deployed to restore peace in the state.

Curfew remains in force in 11 of the 16 districts of Manipur, while internet services are suspended in the entire northeastern state.

Clashes first broke out on May 3 after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley.

Tribals Nagas and Kukis constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.