Track-II initiatives begin in violence-hit Manipur to restore peace
The beleaguered Manipur government has approached leaders of the state’s two ethnic communities to mediate in the ongoing conflict between Meiteis and Kukis after its efforts thus far to restore peace failed.
Chief Minister Biren Singh met representatives of the Manipur Muslim Welfare Organisation (MMWO) and a Naga students’ body on Wednesday (July 12) and urged them to be a bridge between the two warring groups, a highly placed government source told The Federal.
The source said, this is part of the track-two initiatives to resolve the over two-month long conflict that has already claimed at least 130 lives and displaced around 60,000 people.
Meitei Pangals, Nagas roped in to broker peace
The two organisations had a marathon meeting with the chief minister wherein they deliberated on the current situation in the state and how to resolve it.
The MMWO also raised with the chief minister the issue of security of the 13,700-odd indigenous Muslims of Manipur, mostly state government employees residing in the hills.
The MMWO is an influential civil society organisation of Manipur’s indigenous Muslim community called Meitei Pangal.
The Meitei Pangal is among the four main ethnic groups that inhabit Manipur along with Meiteis, Nagas and Kukis. This Muslim community is the second-largest ethnic block after the Meiteis in Manipur’s valley areas.
The Nagas are the second largest ethnic group of the state after the Meiteis. The Kukis occupy the third spot. Both Nagas and Kukis are mainly Christians and enjoy Scheduled Tribe Status. They occupy three hills.
Meitei Pangals and Nagas are roped in to broker peace because of their neutral stand in the current conflict. Moreover, two communities on their own have already formed peace committees to try and iron out the differences between Meiteis and the Kukis who are refusing to see eye to eye, the government source said.
No headway so far
The Kukis are demanding a separate administration to be carved out of Manipur for the group. Meities on the other hand vowed to protect the territorial integrity of the state.
The conflict is showing no sign of ebbing, sparking anger against the state as well as the central government. This has necessitated the involvement of non-state actors to play the role of mediators.
“We have met leaders of Kuki civil society organizations (CSOs) in Nagaland and Assam to persuade them to let bygone be bygone,” MMWO leader Korimayum Boboy told the Federal.
He said leaders of Naga and Pangal communities held similar meetings with Meitei CSOs.
He, however, refused to divulge the reactions of the two groups as it could jeopardise the initiative. But he did admit that they could not make much headway so far.
“We will continue our endeavour until the peace is restore. All communities of the state are suffering due to this conflict,” he added.
The state government is trying to keep the news of the track-two initiatives under the wrap fearing its disclosure could derail the process.
Meanwhile, Forum for Restoration of Peace, a joint initiative of the Nagas and the Pangals, took serious exception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mysterious silence over the violence in Manipur.
The forum on Wednesday appealed to the prime minister to visit the state within 10 days.
“Failure to meet this stipulated timeframe would be considered tantamount to inciting violence, similar to Aung San Suu Kyi’s actions against the Rohingyas in Burma,” read one of the resolutions of the meeting.