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  Opinion   Edit  16 Nov 2023  AA Edit | Heed the complaints of the Kuki-Zo of Manipur

AA Edit | Heed the complaints of the Kuki-Zo of Manipur

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Nov 17, 2023, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Nov 17, 2023, 12:05 am IST

To hear the people is the primary, but huge, responsibility an Indian politician carries with him when he ascends the throne of power.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh. (PTI)
 Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh. (PTI)

It was not for no reason that the founding fathers of the Indian republic repeatedly talked about the need to celebrate the diversity that India has nurtured over centuries and decided to lay the foundations of this nation on the dictum, “unity in diversity”. The Constitution was framed in such a manner that everyone who was included in “[we] the people of India” referred to in the Preamble was made an equal claimant to the rights and obligations of the Indian nation, and made it incumbent upon the part of the Indian state to hear the last man.

To hear the people is the primary, but huge, responsibility an Indian politician carries with him when he ascends the throne of power. There is no wishing away the fact that citizens who reside in every part of this vast and varied nation would be raising a demand that is unique and that it would take an enormous understanding of the Indian reality if the ruler were to address it in the proper way.

The refusal of the Union government to show this understanding in the vexed issue that has been lingering in the border state of Manipur for the last six months has now threatened to turn more complicated with a section of the population in the state pushing for self-government to administer the areas where they reside. The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) which represents the tribal Kuki-Zo population in the state has said that it will opt for it if the Union and state governments refused to address their demand for a separate administration in the next two weeks.

The leaders of the ethnic tribal group which bore the brunt of the mayhem made the statement after holding a protest meeting in Churachandpur district. Their complaint is that no serious investigation has been taking place in cases wherein members of the Kuki tribal community were the victims. There has been no CBI or NIA investigation into such cases. They said they were forced to announce their plan, whether the Union government recognised it or not, because their voice was never heard, leave alone their demand for a separate administration addressed, in the last six months.

The demand of the tribal people is not new. In fact, 10 members of the Manipur Assembly who included seven from the ruling BJP had raised the demand immediately after the conflict began. The partisan attitude of the state government led by chief minister N. Biren Singh, and the various arms of the State, has been documented by independent commentators.

The Union government must at least now wake up to the reality that there is an issue in Manipur and that a section of the people believes that they are denied justice and no one bothers to listen to them. It must act before they allow a sense of victimhood to envelop them. It must also realise that this nation can survive only when its diversities are respected and heard. Ignoring an issue, a real issue, an issue of sense of injustice, cannot be part of statecraft.

Tags: kuki tribe, meitei tribe, manipur cm biren singh