The Zomi Council Steering Committee (ZCSC) has written a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while pushing for separate administration for the Kuki dominated areas in Manipur.
The ZCSC, stated that continued attempts are being made by numerous Meitei civil society organizations as well as the Manipur Government to suit Meitei interests while conveniently ignoring the historical facts.
The letter highlighted the representation submitted earlier by the Ojha Sanajaoba Memorial Trust (OSMT) and talked of how the Trust’s demand for the insertion of protective clause under Article 3 and amendment of Article 371C (1) & (2) of the Indian Constitution, is myopic and communal.
The memorandum also talked of how the OSMT’s representation was a direct challenge to the very spirit and propriety of the Constitution and an attempt to further their "selfish interest" and also undermine the clear intent of the legislature. While stating that the tribal people in general and the Zo people in particular were never integrated completely with Manipur and Meitei society at any historical point in time, the ZCSC memorandum talked of the independent existence of the Meitei Maharaja and the Zo King (Ukpipa) upto British colonial times by citing the Treaty of Sanjenthong and the Treaty of Kaparang signed between Zo Ukpipa Sumkam and Maharaja Chandrakirti in 1873, where dealings between them happened as equal partners.
The memorandum also talks of how a series of treaties were executed and boundary commissions formed to curve out large chunks of hill lands from the areas of Burma, Naga Hills, Chin Hills and Lushai Hills in different time periods to be administered by the British Political Agent stationed at Imphal. The ZCSC claimed that all this was done for the sake of administrative convenience, which eventually led to the formation of present-day Manipur.
The ZCSC also wrote how it felt that the Meitei community and the state Government have an obligation to admit their failure to create an emotional integration with the hill tribes within 76 years of togetherness under the state of Manipur. The memorandum also mentioned that forceful attempts to maintain geographical integration is meaningless and can only spell unending trouble as is widely evident in present-day Manipur.
The letter also stated that the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971 and Article 371C of the Constitution meant for the tribal areas of Manipur were time-tested toothless provisions, manipulated time and again by the Manipur Government to suit the Meitei community’s interests.
Maintaining that a separate administration within the Indian Union is inevitable in view of the total separation already starkly exhibited between the Zo ethnic tribes and the Meitei community, the ZCSC in its memorandum appealed for the hastening of the political talks with the United Peoples’ Front (UPF) and the Kuki National Organization (KNO) for a sustainable solution for the Zo people in the form of Union Territory with Legislature.
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