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Manipur: State proposes extra autonomy to hill councils for peace; Kuki communities still skeptical, security forces recover weapons

"Separate administration, in whatever form the Kukis are demanding is not acceptable to the government. However, we are ready to address the concerns of the hill tribes. We have proposed that the autonomy of the hill councils can be increased giving them greater freedom and control in the administration of hill regions," a source close to Manipur CM said.

Since May of this year, ethnic violence has engulfed Manipur, pitting the Kuki Tribes against the Meitei Tribes and inflicting severe hardships on the state’s populace. Seeking to quell the unrest and forge a political resolution, the state government has reportedly proposed enhanced autonomy for hill area councils to the Central authorities. This measure is aimed at appeasing the Kuki community, which has persistently advocated for distinct administration since the commencement of this conflict.

According to a report by The Indian Express, a source close to Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said, “Separate administration, in whatever form the Kukis are demanding is not acceptable to the government or the rest of the population in the state. However, we are ready to address the concerns of the hill tribes. We have proposed that the autonomy of the hill councils can be increased giving them greater freedom and control in the administration of hill regions. We hope Kukis will accept the offer and end the conflict.”

Envoys from the opposing factions have engaged with the Ministry of Home Affairs to seek a middle ground and resolve the discord. Reports indicate that over a dozen sessions have occurred involving Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who has actively participated in some of these sessions, since the conflict’s inception.

AK Mishra, the Northeast’s liaison for the Centre, is engaged in distinct discussions with Kuki militant factions operating under the government’s Suspension of Operation (SoO) Agreement. Additionally, on Thursday, Chief Minister N Biren Singh also addressed the situation in Manipur, a region that has witnessed over 160 fatalities since the eruption of violence on May 3rd.

Nevertheless, sources indicated that the Kuki community might not readily embrace the proposition due to the prevailing conditions within the state. According to a report by The Indian Express, a source said, “At the moment they have dug in their heels on separate administration. Only after a prolonged period of peace is established, perhaps, this will come under consideration by them. But there are other formulas too to resolve the hill-valley divide for which discussions have been going on for years.”

The Manipur government has also formed a five-member committee. This committee comprises three Naga and two Pangal members (Meitei Muslims), led by BJP MLA and Chairman of the Hill Area Committee (HAC), Dinganglun Gangnei. The committee’s mission is to engage with both communities and seek resolutions to their issues.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, 26th August 2023, security forces in Manipur recovered 70 rounds of ammunition, 16 advanced weaponry, and 16 explosive devices in their search operations. These were recovered from the northeastern state’s vulnerable areas like Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal, Kakching, Bishnupur, and Kangpokpi districts.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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