Manipur to move Union home ministry, poll panel

Imphal, Feb. 9: The Manipur government has decided to lodge a "strong protest" against Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio for dubbing his Manipur counterpart Okram Ibobi Singh the "greatest enemies" of the Nagas.

The statement, reportedly made by Rio during an election rally in Zunheboto in Nagaland on Thursday, provoked Ibobi Singh who convened an emergency cabinet meeting last evening.

Terming the remark a "hate speech", "anti-national" and "communally charged", the cabinet resolved to lodge a protest with the Election Commission and the Union home ministry.

An official source said the state home department would write to the Union home ministry and the Election Commission on Monday to take action against the Nagaland chief minister for his "communal" remark.

Rio's tirade against Ibobi Singh was apparently triggered by the Manipur chief minister's stand against Naga integration, the main demand of the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) in its talks with the Centre.

The peace talks are in the final stage and Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has been consulting Ibobi Singh for a solution. During the latest consultation held in New Delhi on February 5, Ibobi Singh clearly told the home minister that a solution should not harm Manipur's interests and disturb the state's boundary. Rio, who is known to be close to the NSCN (I-M), considers Ibobi Singh a "hurdle" in finding a solution to the Naga issue.

Ibobi Singh is also strongly against the United Naga Council (UNC)'s demand by for an "alternative administrative arrangement" for the Nagas living in Manipur.

In another development, the Ibobi Singh government had yesterday written to the Nagaland government, seeking a "thorough" investigation into the murder of Manipuri driver Ningombam Goverdhan, 43, in Kohima town, an official source said.

The trucker was heading for Imphal, carrying FCI sugar from Dimapur, when he was murdered in by unknown persons in Kohima town on Thursday morning. The sugar bags in the truck were missing. The second driver Thanglen from Churachandpur district was also missing.

After the body arrived here today, truck drivers and their families staged a protest here. Police fired tear gas shells to disperse a group of protesters who were blocking the Imphal-Dimapur Road at Koirengei on the outskirts of Imphal.

The All-Manipur Motor Workers and Drivers Union submitted a memorandum to the chief minister, demanding ex gratia for the next of kin of Goverdhan, and also urged him to take up of the case with the Nagaland government.

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