UNC wants govts to clear air on districts

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By Khelen Thokchom
  • Published 1.10.17

Imphal, Sept. 30: The United Naga Council (UNC) has given an ultimatum to both the Centre and state government to spell out their stand on the creation of seven new districts by the then Okram Ibobi Singh government last year.

The Ibobi Singh government created seven new districts in November last year bifurcating seven districts - two in the valley and five in the hills - evoking strong reactions from the UNC, the apex body of the Nagas in Manipur.

The UNC opposed the creation of the districts because it divided Naga settlements into different districts.

The UNC said the Centre and state government should spell out their stand on the demand to roll back the decision on the districts within 48 hours and warned that it would not be responsible for any eventuality in the event of the failure of both to pay heed to the demand.

"A decision to this effect was taken yesterday by the UNC's presidential council meeting," a source said.

The UNC had two rounds of talks with the representatives of the Centre and Manipur government over the issue of the new districts. The last round of talks was held on August 11 and no further talk was held.

The UNC reportedly urged the home ministry earlier this month to fix the next round of talks on the issue. The home ministry is yet to respond to the UNC request till today, the source said. "We will wait for the next 48 hours for the response of the Centre and state government. If no response comes, then we have no other alternative than to chart out our own course of action," the source said.

The UNC executive members also held a meeting yesterday to discuss the issue and also to chart out the next course of action.

In the last round of talks, agriculture minister V. Hangkhalian, tribal affairs minister N. Kayisii and education minister Th. Radheshyam Singh along with top government officials attended the meeting.

Satyendra Garg, the joint secretary of the home ministry, was also present.

The UNC had imposed a blockade on the Imphal-Dimapur and Imphal-Jiribam highways from November 1 midnight last year in protest against the creation of the seven new districts.

The then Ibobi Singh government had tried to negotiate with the UNC over the blockade. However, it did not bear fruit.

After the BJP-led government came into power on March 15 this year under the leadership of N. Biren Singh, the new government brokered peace. Subsequently, the Naga organisation lifted the more than three-month-long blockade from March 19 midnight.

The next day, the state government also released two UNC leaders, including its president Gaidon Kamei, arrested and jailed in connection with the blockade.