Manipur's apex Naga body bars Congress MP, two others from public platforms for 7 years

IANS Photo

Imphal, June 14 (IANS) In an unprecedented step, United Naga Council (UNC) -- the apex Naga body -- in Manipur, has barred Congress' Lok Sabha member elect Alfred Kanngam S. Arthur and two other candidates from public platforms and holding any position or leadership in the Naga society for seven years with "immediate effect".

The other two candidates are S. Kho John and Allyson Abonmai, who contested the recently held Lok Sabha election in Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency, reserved for the tribals, as Independents.

John and Abonmai secured third and fourth positions respectively, behind Congress’ Arthur and Kachui Timthy Zimik of Naga People's Front (NPF).

Congress candidate Arthur defeated NPF's Zimik by a margin of 85,418 votes.

In a public notification, the UNC said it took action against the trio as they "purposively defied and failed to respect and honour to the position of the UNC in the recently concluded 18th Lok Sabha elections and their wilful attempt to challenge the Naga peoples' position and its spirit of unity".

"... are hereby debarred from public platforms, and holding any position or leadership in the Naga society for a period of seven years with immediate effect," said the notification, signed by UNC's Secretary, Information and Publicity, H. James Hau.

The influential Naga body also directed all the constituent units, subordinate and associate units of the UNC and Naga populace to uphold the resolution of the council and enforce accordingly, in their respective jurisdiction.

The UNC said that it had adopted the resolution in its 'Emergency Assembly' on May 29, seven days before the election results were announced on June 4.

Arthur and Zimik belong to the Tangkhul Naga community while John is a Poumai and Abonmai a Liangmai community among the Nagas.

The UNC's notification has been widely criticised on social media platforms for not naming NPF's Zimik.

"The UNC's decision is not just undemocratic, it is counter productive. In a democratic society, people have the right to choose their leaders without coercion or intimidation," said a post on the social media.

NPF's Lorho S. Pfoze won the seat in 2019.

The election in Outer Manipur parliamentary constituency, comprising 28 Assembly segments, was held in two phases on April 19 and April 26.

The Kuki-Zomi community did not put up any candidates in the polls in protest against the government’s failure in dealing with the ongoing ethnic conflict while the campaign in the Outer Manipur seat was marked by violence and attacks on the Congress candidate, allegedly by Naga extremists.

The Naga community has professed to remain neutral during the ethnic conflict between the Meiteis of the valley and the Kuki-Zomi of the hills.

In view of over yearlong ethnic violence, campaigning for the two Lok Sabha seats in the state was significantly subdued this time.