COCOMI coordinator Jeetendra Ningomba on Wednesday expressed apprehensions about the potential ramifications of disintegration within the indigenous community amid the ongoing movement to protect Manipur's integrity.
Highlighting the necessity of a combined effort involving both physical and political strategies to counteract this issue, he informed that COCOMI was established as a collective representation of Manipur's CSOs with the primary goal of safeguarding the state's unity.
However, he noted that the emergence of various new organisations and individual efforts has introduced a factor of weakening within the ongoing movement aimed at preserving Manipur.
Jeetendra's statements came during the commemoration of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples 2023 in Imphal.
The event, themed "Indigenous Youth as Agents of Change for Self-determination," was organised by COCOMI Students' Wing comprising DESAM, KSA, SUK, AIMS and others.
Reflecting on historical events such as the Seven Years Devastation and the Anglo-Manipur War, where Manipur faced losses due to lack of unity, Ningomba cautioned that a similar lack of unity continues to plague the present movement.
He emphasised the urgency of addressing the ongoing crisis with a shared ideology and coordinated efforts among the indigenous population to achieve victory.
Jeetendra maintained that the ongoing crisis can be perceived as a struggle between those truly indigenous to the region and those who lay claim to indigenous status while acting in contradiction to the interests of the indigenous community.
Citing recorded history spanning over 2000 years for the Meetei community and official documentation of Kuki migration to Manipur, Ningomba stressed that the ongoing crisis is indeed a movement aimed at preserving the indigenous identity and heritage.
He added, "Conversely, those who claim indigenous status but oppose the values of the indigenous community cannot genuinely be considered as such."
Addressing recent allegations made by a MP from the Trinamool Congress, who suggested that the Meetei community was utilising funds from poppy cultivation to procure advanced weaponry for attacks against the Kuki community, Ningomba vehemently refuted the claim, condemning it as wholly baseless.
The event also saw the presence of Khaidem Mani, a senior advocate, Sapam Dilipkumar, an assistant professor in the Department of Law at Manipur University, and Wangkheirakpam Ram, an environmental activist, all of whom served as presidium members.