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UCM call to Nagas, Kukis for talks

Imphal, Nov. 16: The United Committee, Manipur, today expressed its desire to hold talks with the United Naga Council and Kuki State Demand Committee for making a joint effort in redressing their grievances.

The president of the Manipur committee, Y. Nabachandra, proposed to hold a joint discussion with the Naga council and Kuki group to have an understanding of their problems, find solutions and work together to resolve their problems.

The appeal comes in the wake of the Naga council reiterating its demand for an alternative administrative arrangement for Nagas living in Manipur outside the purview of the state government and a blockade call by the Kuki committee to press for its demand for a separate state.

While the council had appealed to Nagas to stay away from celebrating the Sangai festival, which will begin from November 21, the Kuki committee called an indefinite blockade on all national and state highways from 5pm tomorrow to press for their demands.

Both the groups cited alleged neglect, suppression and denial of rights of the hill people by the government as well as settlers, for making their respective demands.

Reacting to the charges, Nabachandra said people in the valley areas also felt neglected by the government. “They may be a few kilometres away from the state capital but there were visible turns of neglect and lack of infrastructure development. The hills are also not an exception,” he said.

Blockades will not bring any solution and only cause suffering for the common man as experienced during past blockades,” Nabachandra said.

He expressed apprehension that the conflicting interest of both the groups over territories might lead to unwanted communal flare-ups as witnessed between Kukis and Nagas in the early nineties, which claimed many lives.

The Naga council is seeking an alternative administrative arrangement for Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong and Chandel districts while the Kuki group is seeking to bring Churachandpur and Chandel districts and parts of Senapati, Ukhrul and Tamenglong districts under their proposed state.

The United Committee, Manipur, is a citizens’ group spearheading the campaign for safeguarding the territorial integrity of Manipur. It led the agitation in 2001 against the extension of the NSCN (I-M) ceasefire beyond Nagaland by the BJP-led NDA government.

Eighteen protesters lost their lives in the crackdown by security forces on agitators, who set fire to government buildings and the Assembly building.