Manipur peace panel: Kukis unhappy, may not attend meetings; Meiteis welcome move

Imphal: Nine more people injured in a gunfight in Khamenlok area in Imphal East as militants and village volunteers exchange fire

BY | Tuesday, 13 June, 2023

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.

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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.

Read more: Centre constitutes committee to facilitate peace among various ethnic groups in Manipur

Meanwhile, nine more people were injured in a gunfight in Khamenlok area in Imphal East district in strife-torn Manipur as the exchange of fire between militants and village volunteers continued till late on Monday night, police said.

Initially, three casualties were reported, but the number mounted as the gun-battle continued before both sides withdrew, a police officer said.

The village volunteers also burnt a few makeshift bunkers and a watch-tower built by the militants, he said.

The area lies along the borders of Meitei-dominated Imphal East district and tribal-majority Kangpokpi district.

The injured have been admitted to local hospitals, where the condition of one injured person is stated to be critical while others are out of danger, authorities of the medical establishments said.

Security forces have been deployed in the area in large numbers to prevent further outbreak of violence and to carry out area domination exercises.

Heavy firing between village volunteers and militants erupted in the area on Monday. No major incident was reported in the area for three days before that.

In another incident, a militant was killed and two others were injured in a gun-battle with security forces in Govindpur village in Bishnupur district, he said.

The militants were trying to construct bunkers around villages when security forces challenged them, resulting in the gun-battle, the officer said.

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