Mizo support for Kuki state demand

Imphal, Feb. 8: Citizens' groups in Mizoram have come forward to extend support to the demand for a separate Kuki state out of Manipur.

The move comes at a time when the Union home ministry and the state government are gearing up to resume talks with the United Naga Council (UNC) on the demand for an alternative administrative arrangement for Nagas in Manipur.

An official source said the fifth round of talks between the home ministry, state government and the Naga council would be held on February 12 in Senapati district.

A meeting of civil society organisations convened by Zo Re-unification Organisation at Aizawl on February 6 resolved to support the demand for creation of a Kuki state. Leaders of Mizoram Students Union, Mizoram Chiefs' Council, former Mizo National Front leaders, Kuki State Demand Committee and other civil groups attended the meeting.

Apart from resolving to support the Kuki state demand, participants resolved to appraise the UN Human Rights Commission about the alleged atrocities by NSCN (I-M) and Meitei militants on Kuki people.

The participants also resolved to put pressure on the Centre and the Manipur government for a political solution to the Kuki problem before any political settlement with the NSCN (I-M).

Leaders alleged that NSCN (I-M) cadres had killed more than 1,000 Kukis including women, burnt 350 Kuki villages and rendered more than a lakh of the Kuki population homeless.

They also alleged that Meitei militants had planted landmines killing many Kukis.

Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh has gone on record saying the demand for an alternative administrative arrangement for Nagas in Manipur was unacceptable.

He also said his government was ready to hold talks with any group, including the Kuki State Demand Committee but it should not mean they were ready to accept the demands.

"If the demand is within our capacity, we will grant it. It is a democratic country and anyone can make any demand," Ibobi Singh had said.

The Kuki State Demand Committee (KSDC) said it was monitoring steps taken by the state government for political dialogue with the Kukis to arrive at a settlement. "Time will take its course. If delaying tactics are adopted on the excuse of official procedures and the resumption of mass movements/protest, it will be the responsibility of the government," George Guite, information secretary of the committee, said.

After the temporary suspension of the public blockade from January 29, the committee members have gone to Aizawl to seek support for their demand.

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