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Leaders from two umbrella organizations representing Suspension of Operation insurgent groups in Manipur met with the Centre’s interlocutor for peace talks, A K Mishra, and senior officials from the Union Home Ministry on Thursday for the second round of discussions between the Centre and these groups.

The Centre had previously engaged in discussions with the groups in July following ethnic clashes between members of the Kuki-Zomi tribes and the dominant Meitei community in Manipur.

During the recent talks, leaders of the Kuki National Organization and United People’s Front participated in discussions aimed at resolving the stand-off between the Kuki-Zomi tribes, who are seeking a separate administration, and the Manipur government and the Meitei community, who have requested the Centre to revoke the Suspension of Operation agreement with the groups. They have also opposed the demand for a separate administration, instead proposing the strengthening of existing councils in the state’s tribe-dominant hill districts.

Prior to the talks, 10 Kuki-Zomi MLAs, who had previously called for a separate administration, submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister requesting the creation of the post of Chief Secretary and DGP, or equivalent positions, for the five hill districts of Churachandpur, Kanpokpi, Pherzawl, Chandel, and Tengnoupal. The memorandum cited difficulties for government employees from these communities to return to Imphal due to the situation in the valley, and requested the creation of parallel posts in the Kuki-Zomi-dominated hill districts to address these issues. The MLAs also requested a financial package of Rs 500 crore from the PM’s Relief Fund for the rehabilitation of Kuki-Zomi people.

Meanwhile, the Meitei civil society organization, COCOMI, strongly criticized the meeting between the Centre and the Kuki insurgent leaders, stating that the Union government’s decision to engage in talks with the “Chin Kuki Narco terrorists” is unacceptable to the people of Manipur.

COCOMI expressed concerns that talks with “foreign SoO militants” in the current situation would create tension among Manipur’s “original” inhabitants, accusing leaders of the SoO groups of being “foreigners” of Myanmarese origin.

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