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Prayer plea to Nagas in Manipur over talks

Imphal, Dec. 4: The Nagas residing in Manipur will hold a mass prayer on Saturday and Sunday to speed up the tripartite talks among Delhi, Imphal and the United Naga Council on their demand for an alternative administrative arrangement.

The UNC, the apex body of Nagas in Manipur, is spearheading the campaign for an alternative arrangement, outside the purview of the state government, for Nagas living in the four hill districts of Ukhrul, Chandel, Senapati and Tamenglong, pending the settlement between the NSCN (I-M) and the Centre after which they would go along with the agreement.

It has written to Naga churches and organisations for holding the mass prayer on Sunday and Monday. There are plans to hold the prayers in churches, community halls and other convenient places.

In a statement issued here today, it appealed to the “Nagas in Manipur for continued prayer support and material contributions towards meeting the requirements for adequate response to the emerging situation”.

Four rounds of tripartite talks have been held between the Union home ministry, the state government and the UNC on the issue. The last one was held in New Delhi on August 31 this year. The home ministry officials had assured the UNC during the Delhi meet that they would take the dialogue process forward and fix a date for the next round of talks at a venue in the hills of Manipur but no new date has been fixed so far.

The UNC statement said the talks between the NSCN (I-M) and the Centre had progressed much and a settlement would be arrived very soon.

The Kuki National Organisation (KNO), an umbrella body of Kuki militant groups, accused the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) of being “greedy” of Kukis’ traditional land. The KNO has a suspension of operations agreement with the Centre and the state government. The agreement was extended yesterday for a year.

The KNO is also demanding a Kuki state out of Manipur. The proposed Kuki state includes Churachandpur and Chandel districts and parts of Senapati, Tamenglong and Ukhrul. It also wants the Centre to start a dialogue with Kuki militant groups. The Kuki State Demand Committee imposed a six-day blockade last month to press for these issues.

The Nagas of Manipur will be holding the mass prayers at a time when the KNO and the NSCN (I-M) are locked in a war of words over the demand for a Kuki state. The NSCN (I-M) claims that the Kukis in Manipur are refugees.