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Zomi community demands separate territorial council

By Correspondent

IMPHAL, Nov 25 - A peaceful public rally was taken out on Monday under the banner of the Zomi Council and its constituent nine tribes and Zomi frontal organisations at Churachandpur in Manipur to demand a separate territorial council, and to urge the Centre to expedite talks with the United People�s Front and the Kuki National Organisation.

Carrying placards that read �We want peaceful solution�, and �We demand Zoland�, men and women took part in the rally that started from the Tangnuam public ground and converged at the Lamka public ground after passing through the main streets of the hill town, located about 65 km south of Imphal.

The Zomi Council later submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister through the Deputy Commissioner of the district.

Council chairman John K Ngaihte and speaker R Sanga addressed the gathering in their local dialect, and spoke about the purpose of the rally and highlighted the historical background of the community.

Later, speaking to media persons, they reiterated their demand for the extension of the 6th Schedule provisions. They alleged that the existing Autonomous District Councils in the hill districts were not only ineffective but redundant to meet the socio-economic and political needs of the tribals.

Claiming that the Centre had upgraded the existing ADCs in the North East into Autonomous Territorial Councils, they said the government also should consider a similar solution for the Zo people, who were believed to have been categorised as a Kuki-Chin group. The Council leaders said the Zomi people were non-Nagas in Manipur.

Alleging that they were not getting enough fund from the administration, R Sanga said, �We want to protect our culture and customs under the Constitution of India.�

It may be noted that the UPF and KNO � the two umbrella organisations of more than a dozen Kuki militant groups of Manipur � have been involved in tripartite talks with the Central and state governments after they signed the suspension of operations agreement a few years ago.

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