LONDON (England): Two dissident leaders from Manipur claiming to represent King Leishemba Sanajaoba on Tuesday announced the launch of the “Manipur Government in exile” here in the UK.
Manipur CM, N Biren Singh on reports of 2 separatists setting up Manipur’s ‘government in exile’ in UK: Government takes it very seriously & has registered a case for waging war against the state. The case has been handed over to Special Crime Branch for immediate investigation. pic.twitter.com/He5Q2j2JYq
— ANI (@ANI) October 30, 2019
Addressing a press conference, Yamben Biren, claiming to be the “Chief Minister of Manipur State Council” and Narengbam Samarjit, claiming to be the “Minister of External Affairs and Defence of Manipur State Council” said they were speaking on behalf of the ‘Maharaja of Manipur’ to formally launch the government-in-exile — “The Manipur State Council”.
Narengbam Samarjit, external affairs minister in the self-declared Manipur State Council, 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.”
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.