Ginza Vualzong. (IANS Photo)
Imphal, October 24 (IANS): Manipur’s apex tribal body Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), while reacting to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comments on Tuesday, accused Chief Minister N. Biren Singh for the ethnic violence in the northeastern state.
Senior ITLF leader and spokesman Ginza Vualzong said that there were no clashes between the majority Meiteis and Kuki-Zo tribals in all these years before the BJP government led by Biren Singh came to power.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, while addressing the annual Vijaya Dashami celebrations at the Reshimbagh ground in Nagpur on Tuesday, reportedly said on the Manipur crisis that some separatist forces were involved in the violence.
Both the groups -- Kuki and Meitei -- were living peacefully for years but trouble cropped up in the border areas, Bhagwat said.
Vualzong said the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) was recently removed only in the Meitei-dominated districts and not in the tribal areas, and this is bewildering since government-designated terror groups operate in the Imphal valley while armed groups in the hills are under suspension of operation with the state and the Centre.
“Why was the government notification of 1966 regarding 'reserved' and 'protected' forests under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 suddenly implemented in 2023, that too without following procedures laid down by the Act, which includes consulting the stakeholders," the ITLF leader asked.
He said the Metei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status suddenly revived in the state, branding Kuki-Zo tribals as “illegal immigrants” and blaming the tribals for the state’s drug menace.
Vualzong said that the sad truth is that the Chief Minister followed a majoritarian and integrationist policy on the minority on the advice of chauvinist intellectuals of his (Meitei) community.
“What Manipur witnessed in the past few years was a highly-coordinated assault on the rights and protections that tribals enjoyed under the Constitution, all in the name of preserving and extending the Meiteis’ domination of minorities.
"Ironically, it included an attempt to get a minority tag in the form of ST status," the ITLF spokesman said.