M C Mary Kom, former Rajya Sabha MP and boxing champion has sought the arbitration of Union Home Minister Amit Shah to prevent the conflict in Manipur from affecting the Kom tribe’s villages. Mary wrote the letter on Thursday amid severe shootouts in areas adjoining Churachandpur and Bishnupur districts, including her own village Kangathei.
Kom told Shah that the Kom community had been affected since violence broke out between Meitei and the Kuki-Zomi in May. In the latest round of violence, which began on Tuesday morning, at least six people were killed on Thursday. According to a senior police officer, the exchange of fire took place in the areas of Ngangkhalawai, Thamnapokpi, Kangathei, Khousabung, and L Phainom.
Mary Kom’s statement
“None of the Kom are villages engaged armed volunteers with bunkers, but because they are all dispersed between the two rivaling communities and in the periphery, there are always speculations and doubts against my community from both sides and are caught in the middle of all problems. The terrible thing is that, due to weak internal administration and tiny size as a community among the minority tribes, we have not been able to stand against any forces that intrude into our jurisdiction,” Mary Kom wrote.
Also read | Domestic LPG Cylinder price slashed by Rs 200 in steepest-ever cut
The former MP sought the help of the security forces to prevent violence in Kom villages, requesting that they be impartial in carrying out their responsibilities to “safeguard the population”. She wrote, “We seek the help of the security forces to prevent both warring groups from intrusion into Kom villages.”
Mary Kom further said the Kom had been maintaining their neutrality. “We are neither Nagas nor Kuki. This has been our position for generations,” she wrote. The Kom group is one of 35 recognized tribes of Manipur. According to the 2011 Census, the Kom people number just over 14,000. They are settled mostly in areas peripheral to the Imphal Valley, unlike the other tribes that have settled in the hill districts.
“Most of the Kom villages lie between Kuki and Meitei villages. Since the violence erupted, we have been sandwiched between both the warring groups. We have no choice but to abandon our homes,” said a Kom leader on the condition of anonymity.
He said both sides had accused the Kom of supporting the other. “We are in a very difficult position. We cannot do anything when both sides accuse us of siding with the other,” he said.
In her letter, Mary Kom urged everyone in Manipur, especially Meiteis and the Kuki-Zomi people, to set aside their differences and restore peace and normalcy in the state. “We all need to coexist, so let’s put our differences and wounds aside,” she said.
In an appeal to the Meitei and the Kuki-Zomi, Kom Union Manipur (KUM) advisor Boyes Kom said, “We are a small tribe. We don’t have any capacity to do or say anything about the ongoing crisis. All we can do is appeal to the major tribes to understand the position of the Koms and save the indigenous tribe.”
For more latest news, click here.