Aizawl: The lone Rajya Sabha member from Mizoram K. Vanlalvena on Thursday flayed the statement of Union Home Minister Amit Shah that the tribal community members in Manipur are Myanmar nationals.
Reacting sharply to Shah’s speech in the Parliament, Vanlalvena told Rajya Sabha that the tribals in Manipur are not immigrants from Myanmar but they have been in the northeast over 200 years before the British colonised India.
“I am a tribal from Mizoram and we are not foreigners and we are not Myanmarese nationals, we are Indians. We have been in the northeast hundreds of years before India became independent,” the MP said.
Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankar, while Vanlalvena was speaking said that none of what was being said will be on record as it was a sensitive issue.
The Mizo MP said over phone from Delhi that he was infuriated by Shah’s speech in the Parliament saying that the trouble in Manipur was due to illegal infiltrators thereby voicing the contention of Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh.
He said that the tribal people in the northeast have been in the region for hundreds of years.
“One fourth of my speech remained unheard as my microphone was switched off,” he said.
He added that though the Mizo National Front (MNF) led by Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga is a part of the BJP-led NDA, the party is supporting the NDA on issue-based.
Meanwhile, Ginza Vualzong, leader of the Kuki-Zo delegation who met Shah on Wednesday said in Aizawl on Thursday, “Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) and all Kuki-Zo tribals feel let down by Home Minister Amit Shah for his comments in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday regarding the ethnic conflict in Manipur.”
Three months of violence has led to the deaths of more than 130 Kuki-Zo tribals, the displacement of 41,425 tribal civilians and the complete physical and emotional separation of Meteis and tribals. And the best explanation that the home minister can come up with is the entry of refugees from Myanmar, Vualzong told media persons.
“Mizoram has welcomed more than 40,000 refugees from Myanmar and displaced people from Manipur, and it is still the most peaceful state in India,” he said.
The ITLF spokesperson said that the Scheduled Tribe demand by the majority community, the government notification on forest reserves which would usurp tribals from their lands, and the demonizing of tribals by the CM and radical Meitei intellectuals are the reasons why the trust deficit grew between Meiteis and tribals, which culminated in the sectarian clashes.
He said that accusing refugees, who are some of the most deprived and helpless sections in any community, of starting a conflict at this scale is just plain wrong.
“We appeal to the home minister to rise above party politics in dealing with the crisis in Manipur,” he said.
“The ITLF is aghast that the home minister is still defending Manipur CM Biren Singh, who we consider is the chief architect of the violence. So many innocent people have died under his watch, and violence continues unabated after three months. Many of his own ministers have made submissions to the central government saying law and order has completely collapsed in the state,” he said.
Despite all this, he (Biren Singh) is still being feted by the central government instead of being sacked, he added.