29 Naga Village Chiefs In Manipur Allege Their Signatures Forged In Demand For Separate Administration

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29 Naga Village Chiefs In Manipur Allege Their Signatures Forged In Demand For Separate Administration

29 Naga village chiefs alleged signatures faked to show all tribals want separate administration

Imphal/New Delhi:

Twenty-nine Naga village chiefs have written a complaint to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes alleging forgery of their signatures in a rejoinder submitted to the commission that claimed 260 chiefs of tribal villages in Manipur were in favour of a separate administration.

The Naga village chiefs in the letter, raising alarm over the alleged forgery of a very high level, asked the commission to investigate how their signatures were faked and to discard the rejoinder.

In the complaint to the commission signed by the 29 Naga village chiefs, they alleged the signatures have been faked to show that all tribals want a separate administration, while it is only the Kuki tribes that have been seeking such a complex arrangement fraught with ethnic complexities.

“The rejoinder submitted to the commission on September 12, 2023 by the so-called 260 village chairmen/chiefs… is a sinister policy… in the name of tribal villages appending their copy-scanned signatures of Naga village chairmen/chiefs living in Kangpokpi, Chandel, and Churachandpur districts of Manipur,” the Naga chiefs said in the letter to the commission.

“This is in order to boost up their campaign for creation of a separate administration fancied as the ‘Kuki Hills,” they alleged in the letter.

“… In the light of this matter, all contents from pages 1 to 150 contained in the so-called rejoinder submitted to the commission appending a copy of scanned signatures of the original Naga settlers village chairmen/chiefs should be rejected… by the commission promptly,” the 29 Naga tribal chiefs said in the letter.

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NDTV has seen a copy of the letter. Four of the 29 Naga village chiefs who wrote it confirmed to NDTV their signatures were forged. State government sources said they are aware of the matter, and are looking into it, but gave no further details about any possible investigation.

The hill-majority Kuki tribes in Manipur have been demanding a separate administration carved out from the state, and have intensified their campaign on this demand after May 3, following the outbreak of ethnic clashes with the valley-majority Meiteis.

Ten Kuki MLAs in the 60-member Manipur assembly and Kuki civil society groups are leading the call for a separate administration; they have said peaceful co-existence with the Meiteis was impossible after the outbreak of ethnic violence that eventually claimed over 180 lives and displaced thousands internally.

On November 15, in a significant development, a frontal organisation of the Kuki tribes had claimed they were ready to establish a “self-governed separate administration” in areas dominated by them, “whether the centre recognised it or not”.

Some Naga civil society groups in Manipur have alleged they were misled into taking part in a “tribal unity march” on May 3 – the day violence broke out between the Kuki tribes and the Meiteis. The Nagas have stayed away from the Manipur ethnic clashes, and warned against clubbing all tribes of Manipur in any demand placed before the Centre or the state government. The Naga and the Kuki tribes, too, had clashed in 1993 over land issues, killing hundreds.

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