Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Manipur tribal body oppose govt decision to destroy ‘illegal’ bunkers

Demanding President’s rule in Manipur, the pro-Kuki Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) on Tuesday strongly opposed the state government and the Unified Security Command’s decision to destroy bunkers, which, according to them, are essential in protecting Kuki-Zo tribal villages from raids.

The unified security command in Manipur, in its first meeting chaired by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, on Monday decided that the bunkers erected by militants anywhere in the state have to be destroyed.

The Chief Minister, after the meeting, said on Monday evening that the Army would lead the operation in destroying the illegal bunkers and would also be joined by other Central paramilitary forces.

Addressing media here, ITLF spokesman Ginza Vualzong said: “This would make the Kuki-Zo tribal villages more vulnerable to attacks by radical Meitei gunmen and mobs. Despite the deployment of a massive number of security forces and the setting up of military buffer zones, tribal villages are attacked almost every day, leading to deaths and the destruction of houses and properties.”

Vualzong claimed that Meitei settlements do not need bunkers because tribals do not attack them, but for tribals, bunkers are an essential part of their defense against unending raids.

“Also, the tribals cannot trust a CM who calls his fellow citizens ‘illegal immigrants’ and openly sides with one community despite being a state administrator. The CM’s partisanship was on full display during his recent visit to the Sagang area, in which Langja village was attacked by armed Meitei groups. He only visited and paid his condolences to the Meiteis, while totally ignoring the burning of 30 tribal houses and the brutal killing and beheading of an unarmed tribal youth.”

The ITLF leader alleged that the decision to destroy all bunkers, announced by the person (Biren Singh) who is the “main architect of the current violence”, is not comforting for the Kuki-Zo tribals.

“Two months of killings are enough for every stakeholder to conclude that cosmetic measures are not enough to control the violence. The Central government needs to show that it is being fair to all sides by implementing President’s Rule in the state,” the tribal organisation said.

Meanwhile, the Army and the paramilitary forces, along with Manipur Police, have, since last month, destroyed around 20 bunkers, set up by the militants in different districts.

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