In an interview recorded on Wednesday evening, hours before the Intelligence Bureau director and Manipur interlocutor arrived in Imphal to hold talks with the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum, its chief spokesperson and head of media and publicity Ginza Vualzong has said that the organisation stands by “every word” of a press release it issued on Tuesday where it says: “The trust we have placed in the Central government is waning day by day.”
However, in a 25-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Vualzong added that his organisation and the wider Kuki community still have “a flicker of hope” and they “pray” the Union government will fulfil the commitments made to the ITLF in August by Union home minister Amit Shah. As of now, those commitments have either been reneged upon or not fulfilled in proper spirit. Vualzong did accept that this is a case of “hope against hope”.
After several weeks of relative calm in Manipur, when many came to believe the situation was improving, the ITLF press release declaring that faith in the Modi government is waning day by day is an ominous and worrying note, particularly because it happens at a time when there’s been an uptick in killings and abductions.
In the interview, Vualzong discusses all the demands made by the ITLF in August to Shah, and the response and commitments given by the government. In each case, he explains where the government has fallen short in fulfilling its promises as well as the one issue on which it has taken action – although inadequately.
Vualzong also raises a new issue i.e. the discriminatory response of the N. Biren Singh government to atrocities committed on the Meiteis compared to its response to atrocities committed on the Kukis. This is an issue that has arisen after the August talks with the government.
On the critical Kuki-Zo demand for a separate administration, Vualzong says the talks are effectively stalled and there has been no progress since August. He agrees and accepts that this is perhaps because the government came to believe that because Manipur was relatively calm during the last few weeks and the government could afford to drag its feet in the hope the matter would resolve itself without further action.