| Cadres of the Zomi Revolutionary Army at a camp. File picture |
Imphal, March 17: The United People’s Front (UPF), an umbrella body of seven Kuki militant groups, which is pressing for a separate state out of the five hill districts within Manipur, has demanded speeding up of the dialogue process.
The UPF signed a tripartite suspension of operation agreement with the Centre and state government on August 21, 2008.
The political dialogue with the group is yet to start but the Centre’s proposal to appoint P.C. Haldar as the interlocutor for talks with the UPF and Kuki National Organisation, another umbrella Kuki militant group having a similar agreement, has been accepted.
Calvin H, external affairs secretary of the Zomi Revolutionary Organisation (ZRO), told reporters in Churachandpur today, that the UPF was not happy with the “slow progress” of the peace process.
However, he said they had enough patience to wait for the Centre to expedite the process. “We don’t want to rush things. Major decisions cannot be taken overnight. Though we want the Centre to speed up the dialogue, we are ready to wait,” he said.
ZRO is one of the seven groups comprising the UPF, whose other constituents are the Kuki National Front, United Kuki Liberation Front, Kuki Revolutionary Army (Unification), Zou Defence Volunteers’, Hmar People’s Front (Democratic) and Zomi Revolutionary Front.
“We demand the creation of a state within the existing state under Article 244 (A) of the Constitution from the areas covered by the six autonomous district councils. It is also one of our clauses in the charter of demands submitted to the Centre and the state government,” Calvin said.
Calvin said the proposed state would cover all the areas under the jurisdiction of the six autonomous district councils (ADCs) in the hills.
Though Manipur has five hill districts, the government has created six autonomous district councils — Churachandpur, Tamenglong, Ukhrul, Chandel, Senapati and Sadar Hills. The Sadar Hills ADC falls under Senapati district, but it was created for the benefit of the Kuki population settled there.
Calvin said the UPF was making the demand for the benefit of all people living in the hill districts including Nagas. “The proposed state will have parallel administration with the Manipur government.”
He said instead of solving the problems and demands of various groups on a piecemeal basis, they should be resolved together.
The ZRO has about 400 cadres, who live in a designated camp in Churachandpur district. Another camp is also being constructed in another place in the same district.
The UPF call for speeding up of the political dialogue comes at a time when the United Naga Council and Kuki State Demand Committee are demanding separate administrations for Naga and Kuki-dominated areas in the state.