The controversial proclamation of self-rule by the Indigenous Tribal Forum (ITLF) has drawn swift denouncement from the Chief Minister N Biren Singh-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, which has deemed it legally and sacredly baseless.
Education and Law Minister Basanta Kumar Thounaojam, in a press conference on November 16, expressed strong disapproval of ITLF’s assertion. He declared that the proclamation lacked legal and sacred foundations, labelling it as a reckless move aimed at disrupting the state’s law and order. Minister Thounaojam emphasised that the government views this move as an attempt to undermine the peace and stability of the state.
“This unreliable assertion by the tribal body seems to be spurred and pointed towards vitiating and upsetting the rule of peace and law situation in the state,” remarked Minister Basanta Kumar Thounaojam. He firmly rejected the idea of self-rule proposed by ITLF and assured that the state government wholly denounced it.
On November 15, the ITLF had declared “self-rule” in areas predominantly inhabited by the Kuki people in Manipur. This announcement has sparked significant controversy, raising concerns about its potential impact on the region’s stability. The ongoing ethnic clash between the Kuki and Meitei communities since May 3 has already plunged Manipur into a series of deadly violence for the past seven months.
A meeting of ruling lawmakers in Manipur on November 16 echoed the government’s stance, unanimously denouncing ITLF’s declaration. Minister Basanta Kumar Thounaojam revealed that appropriate legal measures are underway against ITLF and individuals associated with the contentious assertion.
The State government’s strong reaction comes amid its concerted efforts, along with the central government, to restore peace and normalcy in Manipur. Thousands of security force personnel are actively engaged on the ground to control the escalating violence. The demand for self-rule by the prominent Kuki tribal body has added a layer of complexity to the already challenging situation faced by the government.
The State’s response indicates a firm commitment to maintaining the rule of law and territorial integrity. However, the controversial move by ITLF poses a new challenge for the beleaguered Chief Minister N Biren Singh-led government. With the region grappling with persistent violence and ethnic tensions, the government faces the delicate task of addressing the concerns of various communities while upholding the principles of unity and peace.
As legal actions unfold against ITLF, the state government’s ability to navigate this complex situation will be closely scrutinised. The developments in Manipur underscore the broader challenge of balancing regional autonomy aspirations with the imperative of maintaining law and order in a diverse and ethnically sensitive state.