Tribal Leaders' Forum Allege Valley Insurgents Leading Manipur Attacks

4 months ago 119

Tribal Leaders' Forum Allege Valley Insurgents Leading Manipur Attacks

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders' Forum alleged valley insurgents disguised as cops are attacking tribals


A large organisation of tribal leaders has demanded the imposition of President's rule in Manipur, two days after fresh violence broke out across the state. The statement comes as Home Minister Amit Shah reached state capital Imphal to review the law and order situation in the northeast state and talk to all communities to bring peace fast.

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders' Forum, or ITLF, in a statement alleged tribal civilians defending their villages with licenced weapons and basic small arms were disarmed before they were attacked by "valley underground cadre" disguised as Manipur Police.

"While the SoO groups are in their designated camps, the poor tribal villagers defending their villages with just a handful of single barrels guns and a few licensed guns were collected from them by the security forces, leaving them helpless or leaving them to die at the hands of the state-led machinery," the ITLF alleged in the statement, referring to the suspension of operation (SoO) agreement signed between the centre, state and some 25 Kuki insurgent groups.

Under the SoO rules, the insurgents are to be confined in designated camps identified by the government and the weapons kept under locks, regularly monitored.

"We also demand the immediate imposition of President's Rule in Manipur and the sacking of the N Biren Singh-led government," the ITLF said, adding the union government should send more central forces to protect tribal villages.

The ITLF said despite the difficulties the tribals face, it supports all attempts to bring peace. On Twitter, it posted a video showing an elderly man of the Meitei community being sheltered by Kukis amid the violence.

"... Humanity should always come first, and we hope everyone will learn something from here," the ITLF said in the video tweet.

Clashes broke out in Manipur after tribals organised a solidarity march in the hill districts on May 3 to protest against the valley Meiteis' demand for Scheduled Tribes (ST) status. Tensions over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserved and protected forests, and over the destruction of large areas of poppy cultivation preceded the violence that has killed over 80 people.

Manipur has been without internet for nearly a month.

The Chief Minister on Sunday told the media they have got reports that "40 terrorists" have been shot dead. He said the spurt in violent attacks on civilians on the outskirts of Imphal valley in recent days seemed well-planned and was strongly condemnable.

ITLF spokesperson Ginza Vualiong said no "Kuki militant" was involved in the flare-up that the Chief Minister referred to in his press conference.

"All the militants are in the designated camps. They are in SoO agreement and did not participate in the fight. It is only the village defence volunteers... Thousands of villages have been burnt and over 100 killed, 250 churches destroyed. It is the duty of the villagers to defend the remaining villages... with our licensed guns," the spokesperson said.