Manipur Tribal Group Declares Autonomy in Three Districts, Points to ‘Centre’s Biased Justice’

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) of the Kuki-Zo community in Manipur has declared that members in three districts, namely Tengnoupal, Kangpokpi, and Churachandpur, will govern themselves.

The ITLF general secretary, Muan Tombing, mentioned that the Kuki-Zo community no longer expects support from the Meitei Manipur government and asserted that the decision for self-rule has been in discussion for a month. Tombing emphasized that the Union government’s perceived “selective justice” prompted the declaration of self-rule.

Recently, the ITLF issued an ultimatum, stating that if its demands are not met within two weeks, they will establish a self-government, regardless of central government recognition.

The state of Manipur has experienced ethnic tensions and violence since May 3, leading to significant casualties, injuries, and displacement. Kuki-Zo leaders have been advocating for a separate territory, expressing a loss of trust in the Meitei-majority government led by BJP’s N. Biren Singh.

According to Tombing, the Kuki-Zo community will appoint a separate chief minister, and displaced government officials from the community who were unable to return to Imphal will be reinstated in their roles. Tombing also highlighted Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s reference to Kuki-Zo people as “outsiders” in parliament in August.

Despite several rounds of negotiations with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officials since May 3, the ITLF reported inconclusive outcomes.

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