Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), condemning the arrest of five Kuki-Zo tribals including two women, and the detaining of two children from their homes by central investigating agencies, demanded the release of arrested individuals within 48 hours.
ITLF, in a release, warned of launching intense agitations above the shutdown imposed in hill areas if their demands were ignored. It decried NIA’s arrest of Seiminlun Gangte in a ‘transnational conspiracy’ involving ‘terror groups from Myanmar and Bangladesh. It defended Gangte, claiming that he worked as a private teacher in Kwakta and had no criminal records.
No women police officers and no juvenile police unit, as required by law, were present when the four Kuki-Zo tribals and two children were picked up in a case related to the disappearance of two Meitei students, it stated. It further asked why the CBI has not arrested anyone in connection with several heinous cases and acts of atrocities against tribals.
It also reflected on the chief minister’s statement that the ‘main culprits’ in the students’ case have been arrested even before any questioning has taken place. Alleging that thousands of weapons and lakhs of ammunition were looted/distributed in the Imphal valley, it asked the central government whether it thinks that violence and shooting will stop without the retrieval of said weapons.
Imphal has witnessed massive protests against the BJP government in the past week, it mentioned. ITLF further alleged the Central government for “trying to save the chief minister from the Meitei community’s wrath” by coming down hard on the tribals, including women and questioned whether some lives are more precious than others because of their ethnicity.