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Manipur: Top Tribal Body Rejects Any Form of Dialogue With Biren Singh's Government

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders' Forum (ITLF) said that the chief minister’s intention of reaching out to stakeholders "comes too late after the loss of so many innocent lives and properties and the untold hardships faced by the Kuki-Zo tribals".

New Delhi: The influential tribal orginsation from Manipur, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum, has rejected “any offer of dialogue” with chief minister N. Biren Singh, and said it will not hold any talks with Singh’s government.

In a statement issued on Monday, June 26, ITLF said the chief minister’s intention of reaching out to stakeholders following a meeting with Union 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”.

Singh returned to Manipur on Sunday evening after holding talks with Shah, and had said that he “will reach out to everyone, including the Kuki community”. He had said that he briefed Shah “about the evolving situation on the ground”. He had also claimed that both central and state governments have been able to control violence in the state “to a great extent” under Shah’s “close supervision”.

However, the tribal body said that it will not believe the words of “the perpetrator of the current ethnic violence”, referring to Singh. “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,” the statement said.

“All tribals and a large section of his own Meitei community have lost faith in his leadership and his government,” the statement added.

ITLF has held talks with top Union ministers, including Shah, where KuKi-Zo tribals have voiced that their demands include the political aspiration of total separation from Manipur. It stated that all avenues for dialogues are now “exhausted”, making it “crucial for the Government of India to concentrate on finding a solution to our political demand as soon as possible to bring lasting peace to Manipur”.

It is to be noted that ITLF, along with 10 tribal MLAs (seven of them belonging to the ruling BJP), has been demanding a separate administration (equivalent to a separate state) for the tribals.

The statement also alleged that all tribals and a large section of Singh’s own Meitei community have lost faith in his leadership and his government. “Our political demand is in sync with the demand of our 10 MLAs and other CSO [civil society organisations] 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,” it added.