In a major setback to the peace efforts of the governments, an influential tribal organisation — Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), which has been demanding imposition of President’s rule in Manipur, on Monday rejected any offer of dialogue with Chief Minister N. Biren Singh or his government .
The ITLF spokesman Ginza Vualzong said that the Chief Minister’s intention of reaching out to stakeholders following a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah comes too late after the loss of so many innocent lives and properties and the untold hardships faced by the Kuki-Zo tribals, there is no point in talking about peace without a political solution.
He said that around 106 tribals have been killed, 201 villages burnt, over 5,000 houses burnt and 355 churches destroyed, while 41,425 tribals have been displaced by the conflict.
“We have reached a point where the Kuki-Zo community can no longer live together with the Meiteis. N. Biren Singh, the perpetrator of the current ethnic violence whose hatred for the Kuki-Zo community resulted in the genocide of the Kuki-Zo community, cannot be the harbinger of peace,” Vualzong told the media.
Returning from New Delhi, where he met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and discussed the prevailing situation in the state, Singh on Sunday evening said that efforts to restore peace would be further intensified involving all.
“Restoration of peace and normalcy in the strife-torn state is the first priority of both the Central and state governments.
In the peace process, Civil Society Organisations (CSO) of all communities, leaders of churches, varied communities and other concerned stakeholders would be involved. No stone would be unturned to restore peace and normalcy at the earliest,” he told the media in Imphal.
Biren Singh, who holds the home portfolio, said that the security forces have given maximum efforts in 47 vulnerable areas in different districts.
The ITLF, which along with 10 tribal MLA (seven of them belonging to the ruling BJP), has been demanding a separate administration (equivalent to separate state) for the tribals, in a statement said that all tribals and a large section of his (Biren Singh) own Meitei community have lost faith in his leadership and his government.
The ITLF has held talks with various dignitaries including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, where Kuki-Zo tribals have voiced their demands including their political aspiration of total separation from Manipur, the statement said.
It said : “Our political demand is in sync with the demand of our 10 MLAs and other CSO groups. The ITLF has exhausted our avenues for dialogue, and it is now crucial for the Government of India to concentrate on finding a solution to our political demand as soon as possible to bring lasting peace in Manipur.”
The ITLF also urged all CSOs and tribe leaders from the Kuki-Zo community to maintain unity and not to participate in any form of dialogue with the Chief Minister and his administration.
If anyone is known to be in contact with the state government, stringent action would be taken as necessary, the ITLF statement said.
The Manipur Chief Minister had also said that the Central government has deployed 40,000 security force personnel including the Army, to maintain the law and order situation.
The Union Home Minister continuously monitors the Manipur situation.
He has been briefing Prime Minister Narendra Modi about every detail.
He also said that to further tighten the security, he would soon meet the unified command of the various Central and state forces.
Biren Singh said that the Union Home Minister has assured that the Central government would take all possible steps to bring back peace and normalcy in Manipur and has advised him to strengthen the work towards achieving everlasting peace and also sought the cooperation of every stakeholder in Manipur to ensure that peace prevails in the state.