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Political dialogue with UPF and KNO begins in Delhi

By The Assam Tribune

KANGPOKPI (MANIPUR), June 17 - The Government of India held the first round of �political dialogue� with United People�s Front (UPF) and Kuki National Organisation (KNO), the two conglomerates of Kuki underground groups in the national capital on Wednesday.

The talk at New Delhi was chaired by Satyendra Garg, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, and attended by Brig Prasad, Director General of Military Intelligence (DGMI), Col Amit Tewatia, DGMI, Lt Col Pankaj Sharma, Director General Military Operations (DGMO). Manipur Government was represented by Dr J Suresh Babu, Addl. Chief Secretary (Home) and P Doungel, ADGP (Intelligence).

A six member UPF team was led by Aaron Kipgen while KNO spokesperson Seilen Haokip led another six members group.

A joint press statement of UPF and KNO said that the talks were held in a free and frank atmosphere with mutual regard for either parties� stand and views expressed.

Satyendra Garg said that, �The Centre has decided to deal with UPF and KNO issue directly so as to expedite the process of the political dialogue but if need arise with time an interlocutor will be appointed�, the release added.

It further said that other ethnic group of the hill area of Manipur is on the verge of reaching a political settlement. It is therefore pertinent on the part of the Governments to look upon the political demands of the Kukis or the UPF and KNO.

A joint representation on the outline of the political demand for Statehood was submitted to the Government of India.

The KNO and UPF proposed settlement of Kuki people�s political demand within the framework of the Indian Constitution and in accordance with Article 3 of the Constitution, Statehood for the Kuki people.

The KNO and UPF seek Statehood primarily to ensure political stability in their land and set in place adequate security measures followed by the need to do away with the alleged decade of inequitable development, gross discrimination and exploitation of their people and land by the majoritarian Meitei-led Manipur Government.

It also stated that the States in Indian Union were created along ethno-lingual lines, e.g., Tamil Nadu for Tamils, Nagaland for Nagas, Mizoram for Mizos. Therefore, it is only fair that a separate State be accorded for the Kukis.

It said that prior to British incursion, Kuki Chieftains held sway over the entire hills of Manipur. In the present day, Kuki lands for which the Chieftains possess legal land titles (Patta) include areas covered by ADC Churachandpur, Sadar Hills, Chandel and Kuki villages in Ukhrul, Senapati and Tamenglong districts.

The Kukis are one of the three main indigenous peoples of Manipur along with Nagas and Meiteis. The three major communities have co-existed throughout history. The statusquo, however, was altered with rise of Naga nationalism led by National Socialist Council of Nagaland(IM), and assertion of Meitei hegemony in Manipur by the United National Liberation Front and other valley based insurgent groups.

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