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Manipur CM calls for end to boycott of Sangai Festival

By Correspondent

IMPHAL, Nov 27 - Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh today appealed to the general public and representatives of the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) to support the ongoing Manipur Sangai Festival by withdrawing their boycott call.

The Sangai Festival is a ten-day annual tourism festival which has been held since 2010 to promote tourism in Manipur. But the festival has been reduced to a weeklong affair this year, and it is scheduled to conclude on November 30.

Talking to reporters here today, Chief Minister Biren Singh said that Union Home minister Amit Shah had assured that the final settlement of the Naga issue would not affect the territorial integrity and administrative set-up of Manipur during a meeting with an 18-member team of the COCOMI in New Delhi on Monday evening. The COCOMI leaders had the opportunity to raise the grievances and apprehensions of the people of Manipur due to the ongoing Naga peace talks in the meeting, the Chief Minister added.

The meeting held at the Union Home Minister�s residence, was also attended by Biren Singh and other high level officials of the State. The Chief Minister said that he had a separate discussion regarding Citizenship (Amendment) Bill with the Union Home Minister after the meeting.

COCOMI, a coordinating body of major civil society organisations which has been spearheading a series of public movements in the State since last month demanding disclosure of the terms of agreement reached between the Centre and the NSCN-IM on October 31 and the protection of Manipur�s interests, has boycotted the ongoing Sangai Festival.

On COCOMI's demand for a written assurance, the Union Home Minister said that no such assurance had been given to any party on the issue so far, Biren Singh said, adding that the Home Minister requested the COCOMI team to trust his word in the presence of the Chief Minister and other high-ranking officials. Shah also said the Centre would consult it if there was anything to be discussed on the issue, he added.

On the demand of convening an Assembly session, the Chief Minister said the Winter Session of the Manipur Assembly would be convened by December 20. The COCOMI should therefore withdraw their stand on the Sangai Festival in the larger interest of the State.

Earlier, in a press release, COCOMI announced a public meeting on November 29 here to discuss the assurances given by the Union Home Minister.

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