The powerful Kuki-Zo groups in violence-hit Manipur has urged the Centre to remove state police forces from hills and reimpose the stringent Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, in valley areas. In areas where the Kuki tribes are a majority, the Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU) and the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) had called for a 24-hour shutdown till Wednesday midnight and have now urged Home Minister Amit Shah to remove state forces from the border town Moreh and impose controversial AFSPA in the valley region
The 24-hour total shutdown called by the CoTU Sadar Hills and ITLF Churachandpur started in the zero hours of this morning. The shutdown was imposed to protest against the alleged atrocities of the state forces and to demand their removal from all Kuki-Zo districts in Manipur.
The two top Kuki-Zo tribal bodies urged the Centre to remove all state forces, especially commandos from Moreh and the surrounding tribal majority settlements. They stated that there could be “no peace” as long as state forces are deployed in the area.
The Committee also appealed to the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah to immediately reimpose the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the entire valley for the Indian army to tackle the situation.
Manipur, which made headlines in 2023 for ethnic violence, is witnessing fresh tensions again after recent incidents of violence. Chief Minister N Biren Singh said he was “highly upset” with the violence in Manipur and elements who add to tensions will be held responsible for any stringent government action, including the reimposition of AFSPA.
“This situation can’t be tolerated any longer. Besides, the central government will not remain a silent spectator,” Mr Singh added, indicating at the possibility of AFSPA reimposition.
The ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur on May 3 after a “Tribal Solidarity March” was organised in the hill districts of the state to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Meiteis account for about 53 percent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal valley. Tribals — Nagas and Kukis — constitute little more than 40 percent and reside in the hill districts.