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UNC Gives More Radical Touch to NPC’s July 1 Declaration- Don’t Invite CM To Orange Fest Call Raised

IMPHAL, Dec 7: Taking the declaration of the Naga People’s Convention on July 1 at Senapati this year to sever all ties with the Government of Manipur, to a more radical position, the United Naga Council (UNC) has urged the Zeliangrong people to stop Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and his council of Ministers from attending the ensuing two-day long 7th State level ‘˜Orange festival’ from December 11 at Tamenglong district headquarters.

The UNC is currently campaigning for an alternative administrative arrangement for the Nagas living in Manipur while on the other hand, the Orange festival was declared a State festival seven years back by the Ibobi Singh led Government, giving it a wider platform.

The Organizing Committee of the Orange Festival has invited the Chief Minister as the chief guest and Power Minister Phungzathang Tonsing as the president of the function. MPCC (I) president and MLA from Nungba AC, Gaikhangam, Tamenglong AC MLA and HTC vice chairman Khanthuanang Pamei and MLA Awangbow Newmai will be the guests of honor.

To break the stalemate over the demand for a separate administrative arrangement for the Nagas living in Manipur, the UNC had approached the Centre for its intervention.

Acting on this, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram suggested that the issue be thrashed out between the Centre, the State Government and the UNC.

The tripartite talk held at Senapati on December 3 was a fall out of the instructions from the Union Home Minister, after which the leaders of the UNC had claimed that suggestions for creating a Union Territory for the Nagas of Manipur or Statehood was put forward during the meeting.

The State Government, has however, clarified that alternative arrangement was not on the agenda of the dialogue.

Significantly three Cabinet Ministers named to join the talks, IFCD Minister N Biren, TD Minister DD Thaisii and PHED Minister TN Haokip did not turn up for the meeting and the State Government was represented by its officials led by Chief Secretary DS Poonia. Significantly, the official team from the SPF Government is not mandated to take political decisions.

It is learnt that Ibobi Singh along with his Cabinet colleagues will fly to Tamenglong in a chopper to join the biggest festival of the Zeliangrong people. Zeliangrong is the nomenclature or acronym of three Naga communities ‘“ Zemei, Liangmei and Rongmei.

The main highlights of the festival include showcasing piles of oranges grown by the local farmers and a battery of entertainment programs including the vying of  the coveted ‘˜Orange Queen’ by a number of serene beauties.

The primary objective of the festival is to encourage tourism in the remote tribal area and provide a proper platform to orange growers to display their products before potential buyers and reach out to a global market as well as within the country.

As the UNC has totally severed of political ties with the State Government from July 1 demanding the Centre’s intervention for an Alternative Arrangement for the Nagas in Manipur,  it no longer welcomes the CM and his Council of Ministers and MLAs in ‘Naga areas of Manipur in any program,’ a statement of the apex Naga body’s publicity wing said.

‘The  UNC remind the Zeliangrong people in particular and Nagas in general to uphold the Naga decision and stop unwanted persons from inaugurating and  participating in the said festival because it will amount to re-terrorizing the tribals. However, UNC encourages the spirit of the festival,’ added the statement issued today.

‘It is apprehended that their gracing the occasion as VIPs is bound to disturb the prevailing peaceful atmosphere in the hills,’ added the statement.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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