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Since 1st March, 1999
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Manipur fumes over Rio ‘sneak-in’

Imphal, May 29: Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh may have shrugged off two banner-waving youths welcoming him into “South Nagalim” in his own state but his Nagaland counterpart’s “trespassing” into Manipur territory and calling for Naga integration was too much for him to digest.

The Manipur Assembly today unanimously condemned Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio’s “behaviour” and urged the Centre to rein him in. The Assembly also termed Rio’s entry into Manipur and call for Naga unification as “irresponsible” and urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to restrain the chief minister of the neighbouring state from creating communal disharmony.

The House took up the matter after members from both the ruling and Opposition benches raised the issue during Zero Hour. The members quoted a newspaper report, which said Rio entered Senapati district without informing the Manipur government and addressed a public meeting at Tadubi on May 25.

The report said Rio urged Naga legislators in Manipur to campaign inside and outside the Manipur Assembly for unification of all Naga-inhabited areas under one administrative unit. Rio also reportedly announced that he would reward two Naga youths who unfolded a festoon welcoming chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh to “South Nagalim” during the his visit to Senapati on May 22.

Although present in the House, none of the Naga legislators took part in the deliberations. Senior ruling party member M. Nara Singh said Rio trespassed into Manipur. “His statement is an attempt to trigger communal violence and it calls for a befitting reply from the Manipur Assembly,” Nara Singh, who is also convenor of the ruling Secular Progressive Front, said.

The chief minister said he has apprised Union home minister Shivraj Patil and Union minister Oscar Fernandez, who is leading the government team in talks with the NSCN (I-M) leaders, of the development.

“We should all condemn Rio’s entry and provocative statements. The Manipur government will not remain a silent spectator if the Nagaland chief minister repeats such acts in future,” the chief minister said.

The House should warn the Nagaland government not to repeat it,” Ibobi Singh said in a hard-hitting statement.

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