Even as the security advisor to Manipur has said that the situation in the State has been under control, the Zomi Students’ Federation (ZSF) has strongly criticised in what it termed as “the continued military aggression against Zomi-Kuki villages in Manipur,” allegedly perpetrated by Meitei radical groups.
In a press statement released on Thursday, the ZSF expressed deep concern over the “escalating violence” and called for immediate action to address the situation.
Despite the recent call for peace by Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his visit to the region, the violence has continued unabated, with devastating consequences for the Zomi-Kuki community.
According to the ZSF’s press statement, more than six Zomi-Kuki tribals have lost their lives, and over ten have been injured in the attacks. Additionally, more than 56 villages have been burnt, and more than 20 churches have been torched, causing immense displacement among the Zomi-Kuki population.
The ZSF has attributed these acts of violence to “Meitei radical groups,” specifically naming Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun, who they claim “are being aided and abetted by secessionist militants, with alleged support from Manipur police commandos.” The ZSF’s concerns extend beyond the ongoing aggression as they also highlighted the recently held Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) Convention on June 7 2023, where an eight-point resolution was adopted.
The resolution’s call for a “national war” directed against a specific ethnic group indicates an intention to prepare for a total armed offensive. This is viewed as a direct challenge to the Central government and a public rejection of the Union Home Minister’s call for peace. They asserted such actions “only undermines the government’s efforts but also poses a threat to national security and stability.”
Furthermore, the ZSF accused the convention of introducing the notion of “narco-terrorism” as a pretext to justify the continuation of state-sponsored ethnic violence. They claimed that this narrative sought “to rationalize the annihilation of the entire Zomi-Kuki tribal people in Manipur and the seizure of their land.” While acknowledging the presence of illegal drug trade in the Meitei Valley districts, including the notorious international Itocha Drug Cartel, the ZSF emphasised that the violence in Manipur is unrelated to insurgency.
“The claims of “external aggression” may delude and misguide the bloodthirsty secessionist Meitei radicals, but it cannot justify state genocide against fellow Indian citizens.
It is worthwhile to note that while Kuki-Zomi rebel groups are under Suspension of Operation since 2005 with well laid down ground rules, the threat to national security and state stability is from the secessionist valley based insurgent groups (VBIGs) who are camping in Myanmar, and have so far rejected the negotiation table,” the statement read.
The Zomi Students’ Federation (ZSF) has raised serious questions regarding the resolution adopted at the COCOMI Convention. The resolution controversially rejects the submission of looted guns and ammunition to the government, leaving the ZSF skeptical about whether COCOMI possesses these weapons or is aware of their whereabouts. Moreover, the resolution advocates for the establishment of a Special Village Force and requests the state to arm them. The ZSF expressed concerns about the potential repercussions of this move, suggesting a possible connection between the state government and radicalised Meitei groups.
In light of these developments, the ZSF issued an urgent appeal, expressing alarm and urging the immediate intervention of the Central government and its forces.
“As the tone and content of the resolution suggest an impending large-scale armed aggression, the Central government and its forces must immediately intervene to prevent such misguided, antipeace, anti-national voices from executing their extended plan to inflict violence amongst Indian citizens of the Zomi-Kuki tribal groups. We demand that an immediate action must be taken against COCOMI and sister organisations involved in the convention, the statement read.