‘Everyone entitled to speak freely’: Manipur CM on Kuki MLAs letter to PM

Days after Kuki MLAs of Manipur requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a separate chief secretary and DGP for the Kuki-dominated hills areas in the northeastern state, Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Friday asserted that everyone was entitled to speak freely in a democracy.

Ten Kuki MLAs, including seven from the BJP, submitted a memorandum to Modi on Wednesday, requesting that “posts equivalent to chief secretary and DGP” be established in five hill districts of the state to ensure “efficient administration” in the wake of the state’s three-month ethnic violence.

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The five districts for which they raised this demand are Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, Chandel, Tengnoupal, and Pherzawl.

“In a democracy, everyone is entitled to speak freely,” the chief minister told reporters here after a programme on the occasion of Sadbhavna Diwas.

Though there were a number of MLAs at the function, none spoke to the media on the issue.

Freedom Sale

The Kuki MLAs, in their memorandum, claimed, “The IAS, MCS, IPS and MPS officers belonging to the Kuki-Zo tribes have been unable to function and discharge their duties…” The Kuki-Zo MLAs have also demanded Rs 500 crore from the PM’s relief fund for the rehabilitation of people of the community who have lost their homes and livelihood because of the three-month-long ethnic strife in the state.

Earlier, the 10 MLAs had urged PM Modi to set up a separate administration for the tribal areas of Manipur.

In his Independence Day speech, CM N Biren Singh had said that certain misunderstandings, actions of vested interests and foreign plot to destabilise the country have led to the loss of precious lives and properties in the state.

He urged all to stop the violence and bring back the “rapid progress the state had witnessed earlier”.

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“Certain misunderstandings, actions of vested interests and foreign plot to destabilise the country has led to the loss of precious lives and properties and many are living in relief camps,” the CM added.

Ethnic clashes broke out in the northeastern state on May 3, after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals – Nagas and Kukis – constitute little over 40 per cent and reside in the hill districts.