Separatists declare independence of India’s Manipur
Dissident political leaders from the Indian state of Manipur have unilaterally declared independence from India and said they were forming a government-in-exile in Britain.
The former princely state became part of India in 1949, two years after the country won independence from Britain, but has since seen decades-long violent separatist campaigns.
Narengbam Samarjit, external affairs minister in the self-declared Manipur State Council, on Tuesday said the exiled government would push for recognition at the United Nations.
“We will run the de jure exiled government here... from today onwards,” he told reporters in London, after a declaration of independence first announced in Manipur in 2012 was read aloud.
“We will seek recognition from different nations... to become a (UN) member. We hope many of the countries will recognise our independence.”
Narengbam Samarjit, accompanied by Yamben Biren, who claimed to be the chief minister of ‘Manipur-in-exile’, addressing a press conference in London said that he was speaking on behalf of ‘Maharaja of Manipur’ Leishemba Sanajaoba.
Confirming the developments, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh stated that a case has already been registered against the duo for “waging a war against the state”.
Meanwhile, King Leishemba rejected that he had ‘authorised’ the two men to form a government-in-exile, reported NDTV.
Manipur, one of India’s smallest states with a population of around just 2.8 million people, is one of the so-called “Seven Sisters” -- a group of restive northeastern states.
The region, encircled by five other countries and connected to the rest of India by a sliver of land arching over Bangladesh, has been wracked by armed conflict and instability.
It has spawned more than 100 militant groups over the decades whose demands range from autonomy to secession.
Violence has been part of daily life for decades in Manipur, which borders Myanmar, with a strong presence of the Indian military.
The state has a strong ethnic mix, and its Meitei, Naga, Kuki and Pangal communities are all deeply committed to preserving their own cultural autonomy.
Its people have also always tended to look eastwards in their search for cultural links.
Samarjit said he hoped the world would support its independence cause.
“We are not free there and our history is going to be destroyed, our culture is going to be extinct,” he warned.
“So the UN should listen... we raise our voice to the whole world that the people living in Manipur are human beings.”
The High Commission of India did not respond to a request for comment.