The United Naga Council(UNC) Saturday appealed to all neighbouring communities settling in the state to join the Nagas in strengthening the peace process for its logical conclusion asserting that the people have suffered together for so long.
The appeal was made by UNC president, S Kho John, during the ‘Lui-Ngai-Ni’ celebration held in Ukhrul district of Manipur.
In what could be termed as a rare site, leaders of various communities and tribes of Manipur, including the Kukis, Meitei, Meitei-Pangal on Saturday came together to celebrate ‘Lui-Ngai-Ni’ the seed sowing festival of the Nagas in Ukhrul district of Manipur.
The Nagas in Manipur have been celebrating the Lui-Ngai-Ni for over three decades. However, this was the first time that non-Nagas community leaders came together in a large number to participate in the festival.
Representatives of United Committee Manipur (UCM), JCILPS, CIRCA, Kuki Inpi Manipur, Thadoub Inpi Manipur, Manipur Muslim Welfare Organisations, Zomi groups among others were present in today’s celebration.
“I on behald of the Naga people, appeal to you all that we should no more be victims of the past that as a result of the Naga movement particularly before the Indo-Naga Cease Fire Agreement in 1997. Our older generation have suffered enough. The suffering were not limited to the Nagas alone we all suffered together”, said the UNC president.
Claiming that the Nagas are at the threshold of a new beginning with the impending accord, the UNC president also appealed to the Naga people to have patience and be united.
The Kukis and Meitei apparently were far from reconciliation with the Nagas since the Naga political movement began. The Meitei who are the general population, have always opposed with the political aspiration of the Nagas, to live together under one administrative umbrella at the cost of disintegration of Manipur. Similarly, the Kukis has been demanding justice for the hundreds of victims killed during the Kuki-Naga ethnic clash in the early 90s, allegedly perpetrated by the NSCN-IM. They (Kukis) are demanding to deliver justice for the genocide first before solving the Naga issue.
Lui-Ngai-Ni is being celebrated on February 15 every year in one of the Naga districts of by rotation under the aegis of the UNC. In recognition of its significance and importance, the festival has been declared a state holiday in 1988 and listed Lui-Ngai-Ni as one of the major festivals by the Government of India in 1997.
The festival is an extravaganza of folk music, traditional dances and games and sports, performed by 20 tribes of the Nagas. Well known Tangkhul Naga folk artist, Guru Rewben Mashangva also performed an origianl song “Stay Stong China, We are With You’ showing solidarity to Wuhan, China, the epicentre of Coronavirus.
Apart from villagers of Ukhrul, Naga from different parts of the state, MLAs and Ministers also attended the festival.
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