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UCM push for white paper

Imphal, Feb. 26: The United Committee Manipur (UCM) today demanded a white paper from the Okram Ibobi Singh government on the ongoing tripartite talks between the Centre, Manipur government and the United Naga Council (UNC) on the demand for an alternative administrative arrangement for Nagas.

The committee made the demand after Shambhu Singh, joint secretary in the Union home ministry was quoted in the local media as stating that the home ministry was working on constituting a high-level committee to examine the Naga organisation’s demand.

The reports also quoted Shambhu Singh as saying he had discussed with Ibobi Singh and other representatives of the Manipur government on the constitution of the committee.

The UNC has been demanding an alternative arrangement for the administration of Nagas living in Manipur, outside the purview of the Manipur government since 2010 and seven rounds of talks were held between the Naga body, Manipur government and the Centre.

Ibobi Singh sent a political delegation in the last round of talks held in Senapati district on February 6.

“The demand for an alternative arrangement for Nagas is against the interest of the people of Manipur and geographical unity of the state. The UCM and the people of Manipur will never accept the demand,” UCM president Y. Nabachandra told reporters here.

He said if the Okram Ibobi Singh government was aware of the Centre’s move to constitute a high-level committee, it should produce a white paper on the talks with the UNC. “We would like to caution both the Centre and the state government that the UCM will not remain silent if they take any step to bifurcate Manipur and disturb the existing boundary of Manipur,” Nabachandra said.

It reminded both the Centre and the state government of the people’s uprising in June 2001 against extension of the NSCN (I-M) ceasefire without any territorial limit.

Altogether 18 protesters died in government crackdown during the uprising.

Nabachandra also strongly reacted to a statement made by Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio in Tamenglong terming Meiteis as neighbours of Nagas.

While attending the Naga Lui-Ngai-Ni festival in Tamenglong district on February 15 this year, Rio said the Meiteis were not enemies of the Nagas but their neighbours.

“Rio’s statement carried a hidden agenda and was an attempt to bring disunity among different communities living in Manipur and also create communal tension,” Nabachandra said.

He reminded Rio that the UCM had opposed the demand for creation of an Eastern Nagaland state out of the existing Nagaland state.