Khoibu apex body resents baseless allegations against the tribe

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IMPHAL, Sept 30: The Uipo (Khoibu) Maruo Koukartuo (UMK), the apex body of the Uipo (Khoibu) people, in a press statement signed by its president Tongku Saka, clarified against the allegations leveled against the Uipo (Khoibu) people and several individuals by the Maring Uparup Assembly (MUA), the apex body of the Maring people as published recently in different news papers, saying all the allegations are meant to confuse the public of Manipur.

The statement said the Uipo (khoibu) is one of the oldest indigenous ethnic tribe of Manipur having its own history, traditions and cultures. In fact, the Dewan of Manipur enlisted the Khoibu in serial No.18 as a separate tribe of Manipur whereas Maring was enlisted in serial No. 6 when the Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India asked for the list of `Scheduled Tribes`™ living in Manipur, (letter ref.no: 2/AG/49/0695-96 of dated 6th June, 1949 , S.B Singh dated 4.6.49).

However, in the modification of the scheduled tribal list of Manipur in the year 1956, smaller communities like Tarao, Kharam, Thangal and Khoibu were deleted from the list and clubbed with larger tribes, the criteria solely being the size of population, it said.

But the Tarao, Kharam and Thangal Tribes had been recognized by the Government of Manipur and Government of India recently and unfortunately the Uipo (Khoibu) tribe recognition is pending, it lamented.

The Uipo (Khoibu) tribe is a highly endangered community of Manipur and in great need of social recognition and constitutional protection from the Government since their identity, traditions and cultures are endangered and today hanging on the brink of extinction, the statement further said.

The UMK statement added that the Uipo (Khoibu) people believe in the principle of unity in diversity, peaceful co-existence and cultural symbiosis with mutual respect, and this belief must be respected by one and all.

It also reiterated that the Uipo (Khoibu) tribe has been recommended by the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) of Manipur Legislative Assembly to be recognized as a separate tribe in the year 2002 and 2011. As such the legitimacy of the demand cannot be questioned, statement underscored.

`Several rounds of talk have been held between the leaders of Maring Frontal Organizations and the Uipo (Khoibu) leaders to work out on an amicable solution acceptable to both the tribes, but to our dismay, the MUA leaders always put their hidden agenda in the meetings to hook and trap the Uipo (Khoibu)`, the UMK statement further said.

It said that it is a fact that the concerned authorities from the GPRN intervened timely and took initiatives to resolve the conflict as they saw serious human rights violations on Uipo (Khoibu) people. The GPRN authorities had meetings with both the Maring leaders and the Uipo (Khoibu) leaders several times separately and later held meeting together at Dimapur on the Dec 4, 2011 (Sunday) and both the parties agreed to reconcile and forgive one another regarding the actions committed by either which may have hurt the sentiments of the other.

`The GPRN took notice of actions such as suppression, subjugation, intimidation & threatening, raiding and attacking of villagers, detention of Uipo (Khoibu) village headmen and imposing fines for not obeying MUA`™s dictates, disturbances in the celebration of religious gatherings and cultural festivals-and resolved not to allow such beastly actions again`, it said.

It also appreciated the GPRN for standing for the rights of the minority by looking into the matter objectively and taking a very matured decision. `The decision of the GPRN in recognizing UIPO(Khoibu) as a separate Naga tribe is a reaffirmation that minorities have hope and there can be justice. It has reaffirmed the people in the RULE of LAW` the UMK observed.

It also said in this regard, the selfless efforts of Angdun Charanga Maring, Deputy Kilonser and Kh. Medar, Kilonser and others are exemplary. They have stood for what is right and have not been swayed by narrow self interest. Being Marings themselves, they did not show any narrow communal bias and worked for the rightful solution keeping in picture the interests of the Naga nation as a whole, the UMK said.

It however resented `the actions of senior leaders like W. Angnaikham Makunga, Kilonser` as very unfortunate. Their bias attitude and actions towards the Uipo(Khoibu) have shown their narrow mindedness the statement accused saying `they have acted as agents of the Marings in particular and not for the Naga people. They have been at the forefront of all efforts to suppress and intimidate the Uipo(Khoibu). And as such, they can be deemed as unfit for national service. What would be the consequence if all national workers start working for their own communal interest only?`

The UMK statement also said `had the Government of Manipur taken a timely decision, the issue would have not snowballed. Isn`™t it the duty of the Government of Manipur to protect and work for the rights of the minority? Finally, to quote a popular saying, `Better late than never`™, we appeal to the Government of Manipur to seriously look into the matter and bring about an urgent solution.

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