Two dissident leaders from Manipur claiming to be the representatives of King Leishemba Sanajaoba on Tuesday announced the launch of the “Manipur Government in exile” in London.
Addressing a press conference, Yamben Biren, who claims to be the ‘Chief Minister of Manipur State Council’ and Narengbam Samarjit, claiming to be the ‘Minister of External Affairs and Defence of Manipur State Council’ said they were speaking on behalf of the ‘Maharaja of Manipur’ to formally launch the government in exile — “The Manipur State Council”.
The two separatists, Biren and Samarjit produced some documents to suggest that they have been granted political asylum in the UK in August this year. They claimed that the ‘de jure government’ is shifted from Manipur to London.
However, the King of Manipur has issued a statement distancing himself from the announcement made by separatists claiming to be his representatives. According to Angellica Aribam, a Manipuri NSUI leader, the king has stated that he was made to sign some documents by these representatives on the pretext of acquiring some Manipur-related documents and pictures from London. However, he is unaware of the declaration made by these separatists.
His Highness the King of Manipur has issued statement distancing himself from the announcement. He said he was made to sign some documents by these representatives on the pretext of acquiring some Manipur-related documents & pictures from London. He is unaware of the declaration. pic.twitter.com/CXikELytKh
— Angellica Aribam (@AngellicAribam) October 30, 2019
Meanwhile, the separatists claimed, “We believe that now is the right time to make public the Independent Government of Manipur before the international community and seek recognition. We call on all the Governments of the sovereign states of the members of the United Nations for their recognition of the de jure and exile Government of the Manipur from today onwards.”
“The three million Manipuri people want recognition as one of the Precious Native Nations. Our attempts to engage with the Indian government were met with hate and hostilities,” they claimed.
The separatists claimed that there were more than 1,528 cases of the extrajudicial killing which are pending before the Supreme Court of India.
“The state of Manipur is a de jure Government formed in Manipur under the Manipur State Constitution Act 1947. It received independence from the British Raj on August 14, 1947. They claimed the sovereign State of Manipur was excluded from India by the Order in Council by his Majesty on 27 December 1946 and the Indian Government annexed the Manipur State of India by the violation of the Act 1949,” the separatists claimed.
The two leaders said that they would make an appeal to Queen Elizabeth II and after getting an order from the Privy Council they would move the United Nations for recognition.
Manipur, a land of diverse cultures and ethnicities is a multicultural society comprising of Naga, Kuki and Meitei tribes. However, the ‘divide and rule policy’ of the British in relation to administering the hills and plains of Manipur and the introduction of Christianity has widened the cultural gap among these communities.
Over a period of time, separate aspirations and insecurity regarding overlapping claims over natural resources, added with help from neighbouring countries has led some of the groups and insurgents to move towards separatist movements. Till today, some of the Meitei insurgent groups continue to wage an insurgency in the name of self-determination and restoration of lost sovereignty.
The Naga insurgent group – NSCN(IM)’s demand for the formation of Nagalim, including the four districts of Manipur is also seen as a threat to Manipur’s territorial integrity. Meanwhile, the Kukis demand a separate statehood for the Kukis. The Kuki State Demand Committee (KSDC) was formed on November 2, 2010, to seek a ‘Kuki state’, which is to be carved out of their ancestral land in Manipur.