10 MLAs from Naga areas urge Manipur CM to appoint new Tribal Affairs Minister

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Imphal, February 29 (IANS) Ten MLAs, belonging to Naga-dominated constituencies of Manipur, on Wednesday requested Chief Minister N. Biren Singh to appoint a new Tribal Affairs and Hills Minister to look after the issues of tribals and hills regions efficiently and effectively.

In a joint signed letter, the MLAs told the Chief Minister that the common citizens of Manipur have been facing difficulties due to unrest in the state and in this hour of crisis, the functioning of Tribal Affairs and Hills Department is very crucial.

"The Tribal Affairs and Hills Department has been rendered defunct for the last 10 months due to absence of a Minister in-charge of the department. It is pertinent to point out that this Department is becoming more crucial in this hour of crisis to look after the needs and development of tribals and hills areas of the state to bring over-all peace and progress in the state," the letter signed by MLAs S.S. Olish, Ram Muivah, Leishiyo Keishing, Khashim Vashum, J. Kumo Sha, Losii Dikho, N. Kayisi, Awangbow Newmai, Janghemlung Panmei, and Dinganglung Gangmei.

There are two ministers from the Kuki community in the Biren Singh ministry. While Letpao Haokip is Tribal Affairs and Hills Minister, Nemcha Kipgen, the lone woman minister in the cabinet, is Industry Minister.

Ten tribal MLAs belonging to the Kuki-Zo community, including Haokip and Kipgen, have been, since the outbreak of the ethnic violence in Manipur on May 3 last year, demanding a "Separate Administration" (equivalent to separate state) for the tribals. These ten MLAs, including the ministers, did not participate in the Assembly proceedings, including the ongoing session, since the violence broke out last year.